Monday, 30 January 2012

Why the dinosaur propaganda system can't use social media effectively

Lately I have been swinging my sights on to Ethical Oil's latest mouthpiece Kathryn Marshall. Of course I am not a radical environmentalist; what angers me about Ethical Oil is how insulting their campaign is. Their campaign is propaganda designed to fool Canadians, not other countries.

The Ethical Oil campaign is the face of fascism. Their campaign is nationalist in nature (Canadian interests against foreign interests). Their campaign is a collaboration of government and industry. It is text-book fascism, and fascism never falls on the side of truth.

Luckily for us that live in the era of social media; fascist propaganda is a lot harder to get away with. Take for example Marshall's viral embarrasment from a few weeks ago. All 3 organizations featured boasted this interview on their social media feeds; each expecting to have positive feedback as a result. Of course since Marshall's performance was so poor the Ethical Oil organization didn't get the feedback they were probably desiring, and instead received a big 'ROFL' from the Twitter universe. This brings us to today's topic, which is why the old dinosaur propaganda outlets just can't master the art of social media; specifically Twitter.

The first thing to notice about social media is that your audience is very aware if you are "real". Almost every politician has a Twitter account, but not all of them actually man it. Many (such as simply treat it as another arm of their PR spin, putting out "tweets" like they put out news releases. It's impersonal and a failed use of social media for PR. It's rare that you will get a reply if you message these sorts of "manned" accounts and it's so obvious that it's a PR team answering your message even if they do reply that these accounts should really be named @[Politician]sCampaign.

Another form of "news release style" social media practices are those used by the @Ethical_Oil account and @KVMarshall. They do take an interactive approach, but they do so in the same form of a relationship that say a blogger and their readers/commentors have. Bloggers often moderate (censor) comments coming from their readers and as a result most blogs usually end up with a "cherry-picked" feeling; where all of the comments strangely seem to be of the same view as the blog they are published on (For the record I do not modify, moderate, or delete comments posted on this blog). Of course, what Ethical_Oil and Kathryn Marshall seem to not realize is: that Twitter isn't a blog and you can't cherry pick your public presence on it (even though it might appear that you can).

For the next few days after her embarrassing interview, Kathryn Marshall went on a Twitter banning spree. Anyone who disagreed with her was banned and blocked from following her on Twitter and thus she no longer can see these user's mentions either. She justified this mass blocking beating some sort of sexist drum and retweeting the few who did make sexist comments to make it appear as though everyone she was blocking was being sexist. Of course most in fact were questioning her absurd statements about Enbridge funding being a "conspiracy theory". What Kathryn Marshall doesn't seem to understand though, is that a Twitter search still returns all "mention" tweets even by user's she herself has blocked. Since she's blocked all those user's who oppose her (Enbridge's) position she has inadvertently created a virtual "social reality" in which everyone she sees agrees with her which reinforces her belief that most of Canada must be on her side.

The result of this is quite amusing, looking at her feed you will see statements such as "I'm so glad I have so many fans, etc" - and looking at her twitter in which she retweets anything even remotely positive about her or Ethical Oil it would indeed appear that is the case, however.. the picture changes starkly if you search her twitter handle. Under the tweets mentioning her handle (or @Ethical_Oil), you will find the majority of them are quite negative. Most are calling out Ethical Oil for being funded by Enbridge. Many are laughing at Marshall herself for seemingly being so oblivious about how stupid she has made Ethical Oil look - and are there any replies or rebuttals to any of these statements? No. Why not? Well it's hard to reply and make your point about your PR spin if you block everyone who disagrees, this might work on a blog but when it comes to social media - sorry - all of those "blocked" comments are all still available for everyone except the blocker. Not exactly smart when the point of launching such a campaign is to convince those who would disagree with you that you are correct. By blocking everyone who disagrees they are simply revealing how disingenuous they are. What's really sad is I think that this point is actually beyond Ethical_Oil and Kathryn Marshall, either that or this campaign is designed "for the ethical oil choir". I mean honestly, the only people they are "convincing" is those who already agreed with the concept of "ethical oil" or those who are so brainwashed they think giving our oil to China isn't "foreign special interests" - but these people all thought this way before Ezra's pathetic blog.

So this is why the dinosaur propaganda outlets will never make good use of the social media platform (however hard they may try). The reason is that social media (unlike traditional media) is an interactive two-way street. Propaganda depends on a one-way, information-out only - where critical thinking is deflected with straw-man arguments about nothing at all. Such as "is our oil ethical?". This is why the ethical oil argument can't stand up in any interactive forum, it's propaganda at it's purest - a 100% straw-man argument - that when analyzed or questioned even a little: falls apart like a house of cards.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Great Oil War [Chapter 2] : Iran

In chapter 1 of what now may be considered the beginnings of a World-War III we discussed what was then the active military action against Libya. We covered economic hitmen and the typical approach taken by western nations to overthrow or at least get nations to play along with their game.

Of course there are many other skirmishes going on, such as Syria but for me it is Iran which gets a "chapter 2" due to the clear escalation it represents. Back in 2005 Michael Ruppert described exactly the scene we are seeing play out with Iran today:

I know it is 2 hours long but please do take the time to watch as it is extremely important material. As you can see there are no mentions of nuclear weapons in this video and clearly what is happening now has been building for a long time far longer than this "sudden" nuclear media spotlight threat from Iran. Iran of course is simply going to be another theatre war as was described in "Project for a New American Century"'s report titled "Rebuilding America's defenses". The nuclear threat is the same WMD bullshit we were fed with Iraq.

Understanding the concept of "theatre" here is very important. It is theatre for your consumption, like a hollywood movie. If you have been watching the republican debates, one you might find quite interesting is the debate specifically oriented around national security. First of all, to begin: why national security? Why not the economy? It seems to me that national security really only comes up when the mass media exadurates the threats coming from countries with resources, or drugs. Then notice that for some reason all of the questioning is about Iran. You'd think with multiple wars going on, North Korea's leader near death, and China quickly gobling up global energy resources that some of the topics might have also made the list of "national security"; but instead it's a full 2 hours of essentially descriptions of theoretical scenarios involving Iran and how the candidates would respond to them. And respond they did, my most memorable response was Newt Gingrich talking on public TV about how he would use covert operations. Let me ask you, if Iran was such an imminent threat to their national security then why would they publically be discussing tactics they've yet to deploy? Why antagonize a nation you are not yet at war with by talking as though you are? Why give them the heads up? You see it was all for you, dear reader. It was a big scary show put on to promote a war with Iran and to scare the viewers with all of the scary theoretical scenarios the media (government?) could dream up.

I'd like to show you an interesting contrast. Here is some lovely theatre fluff for your consumption put out by to promote the ethical oil brand at the expense of Iran, and on the back of 10 years of propaganda and lies. It doesn't hold back at all even mentioning 9/11. It's 100% advertisement.

Here is an objective article put out by Zero Hedge about the dangers of Iran and oil price. See the difference? One provides facts and the other? Well the other tells you all about how great ethical oil is because you know.. war sucks. Sorry.. "conflict" sucks. The HuffPost article is so incredibly filled with shit I'm surprised Huffington even published it. Let's disect this sucker!!!!
Not everyone cares about the conflict footprint that comes with oil from Iran's loathsome regime. Plenty of countries are content to patronize a government that not only brutally tramples basic human rights, degrades women, and persecutes gays, but also uses the currency it collects from oil sales to build nuclear weapons so it can threaten and potentially attack its neighbors.
This is a real gem of a paragraph, let's look past the obvious and skip the demonization introduction. I'm not a fan of Iran but that sentence is clearly there to set your mood for this article. Tacked on to the end after the first three crimes get you all angry is this: "uses the currency it collects from oil sales to build nuclear weapons so it can threaten and potentially attack its neighbors". Obviously the author is hoping that the introduction has numbed your critical thinking here as this sentence is clear propaganda. The mention of using "oil money to build nuclear weapons" is interesting. First of all: I wasn't aware that had access to Iran's financials and second: that's a lot of oil money they've spent to not yet have a nuke, don't you think? It's an assumption on speculation presented as fact. Finally the author insults your intelligence by implying Iran has been threatening to attack it's neighbors with nuclear weapons when they re in reality denying these weapons exist at all. Moving on.
When France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, recently floated the idea of slapping an embargo on Iranian oil to pressure the mullahs to stop their dangerous and illegal nuclear arms race, he won support from Britain, but the rest of the European Union wasn't hot on the idea. They're just fine punishing ethical Canadian oil, but debated over punishing Iran's conflict oil.
Again, let's ignore obvious points such as the fact that there is a large ocean between us and Europe and the infrastructure to heavily douse Europe in Canadian oil doesn't exist anyway. What I find really interesting here is the idea implanted by the author that oil consumption at the moment is some sort of choice by these countries. For those who read this blog I shouldn't have to remind you that we only pump just under 2million barrels of ethical oil a day and I think it is safe to say that with the U.S.'s oil demand, and China.. Europe isn't getting any. Europe is demonizing our oil because it makes economic sense. They don't rely on our oil and they must appease those pesky environmental activists somehow. So they campaign against a product that doesn't impact them to gain popular support, just as ethical oil does against Saudi oil for popular support here. China is a brutal regime too, but we have no problem inviting them in and allowing them to use foreign temporary workers for staff.
But supporting conflict oil doesn't just mean promoting terror, persecution, murder, and war -- though it certainly does mean all those things. It also means promoting instability and risk. That's what the Europeans, and other importers of Iranian oil, are discovering right now. That's because the Iranian autocrats have declared that if the world continues to bring pressure to bear on them over their illegal nuclear program, they'll choke off world oil supplies by closing off the Strait of Hormuz.
The author doesn't know what "supporting terror" is, this is supporting terror with a direct result. Like I said, it is theatre for your consumption, dear reader.
In short, that could be disastrous to a world economy that's already perilously fragile. The Strait of Hormuz is the main channel through which Middle Eastern tankers transport oil for export from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Iraq. In addition, about 15.5 million barrels -- or a third of all ocean-transported oil and liquefied gas worldwide -- moves through the six kilometre-wide strait. Even for those countries, like the U.S. and Canada, who aren't clients of the Shariah oil state, the spike in oil prices that would be caused by such a major disruption of supply could be devastating.
This is what a world at the mercy of conflict oil looks like. It's a hostage situation. We either directly support the horrendous rule of the worst dictators on earth and, if we don't, they can cause the entire world great economic pain and, potentially, even spark warfare. As the National Post reports, Iran's decision could very well "trigger military conflict with economies dependent on Gulf oil."
This paragraph is almost true, if you remove one word "conflict". It should read: "This is what a world at the mercy of oil looks like". Somehow the author has determined that Canada's ethical oil production will have no problem reaching the combined oil output of "conflict oil" countries. Considering that Saudi alone produces around 9million barrels / day I don't think I need to tell you why this assertion is a slap in the face to your intelligence.
Most of the time the difference is psychological: It's about values and the fate of persecuted people in foreign lands. Once in awhile the cost of choosing conflict oil becomes very palpable and very direct; 9/11 was one of those times, when Saudi oil money was linked to Al Qaeda.
Here's the kicker... 9/11!!!! Mixed in with the last three paragraphs of ethical oil promotional lines.

I guess the author hasn't heard that a lot of American money was "linked" too:

To conclude, the momentum behind this war has been building for years. It's no surprise that ethical oil would take advantage of this situation but seriously HuffPost, WTF? The Iran situation is certainly dangerous, it is something we should all be paying close attention to. Last year I predicted that oil prices would bounce between $80 and $100 for the remainder of 2010 (turned out true, no?). This year with the Iranian, Chinese, and Saudi situations I think we will definitely see $150, I can't say whether or not Zero Hedge's $200 will happen, that seems a little high. If it does happen, oil will be so hard to find on the market that it won't matter I believe.