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 http://www.twitter.com/PMHarper) 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.