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WATCH: The Weaponisation of Social Media

Now openly admitted, governments and militaries around the world employ armies of keyboard warriors to spread propaganda and disrupt their online opposition. Their goal? To shape public discourse around global events in a way favourable to their standing military and geopolitical objectives. Their method? The Weaponization of Social Media. This is The Corbett Report.

Transcript of this video, along with download links, sources and an audio-only version are available here.


  1. Robbobbobin says

    The immediate problem is not the widespread psychological manipulation of social media users in general but the intense psychological manipulation currently being concentrated on the sole personage of the US Twitterer in Chief.

  2. Pablo says

    Reminds me of the speech made in Ukranian parliament by Oleg Tsarov in Novemeber 2013 where he warned of a coming coup and stated that people were being trained in the use (or abuse) of social media at tech camps being run from the US embassy in Kiev to support the coup. Maidan followed only months later. Strangely it was during Maidan that the Russian bot meme sprang into life. Personally my impression was rather that chat rooms and comments boards were rather full of pro Kiev bots (or astroturfers).

    • Yes, thanks for reminding us of Oleg Tsarov’s revelations in November 2013.

      Oleg Tsarov 14.04.2014 severely beaten-up by Neo Nazis post coup in Kiev.

      Another example of the result in the weaponisation of the far right fascists in Ukraine by the US.

      • reinertorheit says

        This is kind of “democracy” that Angela Merkel has supported and funded in Ukraine.

        • Pablo says

          Indeed, and yet according to her germany had a moral duty to invite refugees into europe due to its historical guilt. That same historical guilt didn’t however prevent her supporting and aiding nazis in ukraine and ensuring the german press provided them with cover. How odd.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            And Merkel sees here ‘moral duty’ in regard to the perpetually imprisoned Palestinians, awaiting their fate at Zionism’s hands, to be to micturate on them from a very great height.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Merkel is just returning the favour for the Ukronazis services rendered to the Reich during WW2. Similar sentiments drove Kohl’s support for the revanchist fascists in Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia.

  3. Toby: wonderful comment. Authoritarianism, status heirarchies, and competitive power relations cause such psychological immaturity and low esteem among the dominated majority. Psychologists like Jordan Peterson freely admit it: but qualify it as “scientifically determined”, “natural” and inevitable (something to do with being related to lobsters 23mn years ago). But is a socially Darwinian hyper-conflictive social order and status driven dominating culture desirable or even something we want to carry forward? Can we afford to support a repressive superclass superstructure as resources dwindle? Not at all: Peter Kropotkin discerned cooperative, not predominantly competitive, forces in nature that are at least as natural as serotonin based pseudo-scientific dominance structures espoused by the likes of Peterson …that replicate the authoritarian dominant culture and reinforce the status quo. Siphoning non-renewable resources through the foundational infrastructure and material base of society to sustain the malignant vertically integrated parasitical superstructure is not only undesirable, but unsustainable. In fact, it is how civilisations collapse. Dominance structures are a wilful nineteenth century misreading of the pattern language of nature, whose day is done. The material base could classlessly, cooperatively and egalitarianly organise around freedom, emancipation and become psycho-spiritually mature …replicating itself sustainably once the surplus and surfeit extracted by the entrenched superclass is gone. Nature is a language of balance and equalisation, of the unity of opposition; a dialogue we are within, not above and beyond. Maybe learning to correctly read nature can be a rite of passage: an early indicator of a growing maturity? I don’t know how it will turn out: I do know that if humanity continues to deliberately misread nature: and base our socio-economic and ethno-cultural inter-relationships on implicit dominance, status power and competitive struggle …especially our imposed superiority and mendacious dominance of nature: we will never mature. As a species, under the dictatorship of authority: we will die young. All because we refused to learn to read?

    • Thank you, BigB.

      I believe dominance structures are part of the state dynamic – seeing as the state is fundamentally hierarchical – and therefore many millennia old, not just a couple of centuries. For me, The Enlightenment was, in part, a kind of crystallisation of the misreading of nature you describe: it was already implicit, or at least nascent, in much of what preceded it. Nature as machine to be mastered (tamed) and perfected (made right for civilisation)… As if we are separate from nature. As if there can be anything outside nature whatsoever. But I think that misguided perspective emerged as one of many unintended consequences of farming and domestication of animals, in that farming kinda turns most natural processes and cycles into enemies that threaten, continually, the domus. James C Scott’s Against The Grain is very interesting on this point.

      Yes, I think correctly, scientifically (not scientistically) reading nature is part of where we have to get to, at least in terms of a radical change of direction. I think a big part of maturation is the sound humility that comes with wisdom. For that to happen in earnest, Big Brother has to get out of the way. For Big Brother to get out of the way, we have to learn, culturally and individually, how to stop generating him, needing him. Kind of a chicken-and-egg thing, but not insurmountable. Very difficult indeed, but not impossible.

      If not us, then who.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Hierarchy, dominance and violence suit the psychopaths, those we euphemistically call ‘the Right’, based on their choice of seating in 18th century France. They have become the dominant human type through the patriarchy, patriarchal, genocidal, ‘Gods’, ie their ego-projections onto the Universe, social hierarchy based on brigandage and killing, imperial aggression and colonial exterminism of the various Indigenous in the New World, and, their apotheosis, capitalism, now in its most malignant, end-stage, fulminating, form-Free Market absolutist neo-feudalism. The Right won, preponderantly, I would say, because of their greater appetite for murdering those unlike themselves, thus tilting the genetic inheritance of our species.
      The end could be tomorrow if monsters of unremitting Evil like Trump, Pompeo, Nutty yahoo, May etc get their way. It will come, in any case, within decades through the ecological Holocaust, which is not just being ignored, but is being furiously impelled onwards by capitalist greed and hatred of Life on Earth. Not a day passes here in the sewer that is Austfailure when the Right does not destroy some biosphere, exterminate some species, demand more coal mining and burning, more land clearances, more logging in native forests, even the water tables for huge metropolises, or more ‘development’, ie destruction. As the haters of Life march on like rabid army ants to their Nirvana of profit maximisation amidst the dust of destroyed Life, those that know better, those not infected with the ‘Wetiko’ disease of omni-destruction, those who actually care for their children’s, even, now, their own fate, sit impotently by, wringing their hands in frustration and fear, and pleading for sense and decency from anthropoid piranha who possess neither.

      • Well said. I was pleased to see ‘Wetiko’ turn up in your prose there, because you seemed to be describing that phenomenon and I was therefore wondering if you had come across the concept. One way or the other though, western culture is indeed a highly diseased form of fear-based, control-based dominance that is hard to fully explain absent reference to or even being grounded on a ‘spiritual’ basis like Wetiko. Didn’t Freud call this Thanatos? I’m not a fan of Freud the Psychological Mechanic, but do respect many of his more pithy observations.

        But while I agree with every word you wrote here, I do choose to disagree with the tone of your prose, which is profoundly resigned to our apparent doom. Not because the facts support optimism, but because if we are going to make it by some miracle, part of getting that miracle going will be optimism in the face of apparently unsurmountable odds.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Oh, the Right are definitely death-worshippers. You see it in their destructiveness, in the lust to kill other creatures, animal or vegetative, in their love of guns and other weapons, in their indifference to the fast-approaching ecological Holocaust. I’ve long thought that this is some sort of perverse reaction to their dread of Death, that you also see in their vulgar, aspiritual ‘religion’, which is basically nothing much but begging not to die, of a deity that they created in their image, ie hateful, cruel, judgmental, violent, not the other way about.

          • Is it indifference or momentum? My take is that systems structure perception. There’s an historical momentum that shapes what we are capable of perceiving and desiring, generally speaking. Basically, we’ve probably got fear in the fabric of reality as one quality of consciousness that is always around as an influencing factor. There’s also the creative urge that is tied to curiosity. So we create farming. That has unintended consequences. Some of them excite fear as things get harder than we expected. This leads to self-protection urges via notions like property and domination of nature. This feedback loop generates what you are calling, justifiably, a death cult. But I don’t think it’s Right or Left, just a self-perpetuating momentum or dynamic that is understandable in terms of how our quality of consciousness has evolved in the face of numerous historical challenges.

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says

              I do agree with your ideas, there, but really I use ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ only as a sort of short-hand for ‘psychopaths’ and ‘non-psychopaths’. There are quite a few fake ‘Leftists’ around, who are really Rightists, in my personal formulation (the Fraudian is full of the type), but almost all ‘conservatives’, ‘Rightwingers’, ‘Zionists’, ‘exceptionalists’ even ‘liberals’ seem to me to be more or less florid psychopaths. There are a lot of evil individuals about who seem really to see themselves as moral exemplars. This moral insanity through auto-brainwashing is particularly pernicious.

        • Toby, Mulga: Murray Bookchin outlines the development of heirarchy from hunter gatherer (primitive communist) communities forward. I would link the development to the concept of exergy. Exergy could be defined as surplus energy beyond subsistence, that can be accumulated in material form, and sustain social diversity and tiered (class) dominance structures. So a big development would be the agrarian revolution: but fast forward, the really big enabling development would be the technological advance utilising the burning of hydrocarbons. In modern society, the superstructure, status heirarchy and social diversity are a function of oil (see for instance, Hall and Klitgaard, Joseph Tainter). In the second half of the age of oil (which we have just entered) all our intellectual, technological and resource prioritisation should be chanelled toward the design of a post-carbon society, and a planned transition to the future. Instead, we are undergoing the greatest hope and resources heist in history as the superclass (the top tier of the superstructure) cannibalise what is left and hoard it (offshore) for THEIR (class) preservation and future. Thus, the Wetiko psychoses amounts to the foreclosure of the future for the vast majority by the “accumulation by dispossession” and hoarding by the very few. They own our future if the current status heirarchy and tributary fealty from the masses is perpetuated.

          If, and it is a very big if, future humanity were to develop a society that avoided the pitfalls of top tier dominance and debt peonage (it could be argued our dominant culture is ALREADY neo-feudal, especially if you consider the excluded 85% of the trans-global lumpenproletariat). First, there will not be the exergy to sustain the superstructure: status strata much above a comfortable and spiritually adequate regenerative subsistence level will be redundant and energetically unsustainable. Administration of a single strata (classless) community of equals can be communally partcipatory or accountably representative (an authority that is democratic, and not IN authority: i.e. the power is in the Demos – Bakunin).

          Of course, theory is a wonderful thing. The only thing that stands between humanity and an egalitarian evolutionary future is the greed of a 2,000 strong superclass, their state administrative and state ideological apparatuses (Althusser), and the inculcation of the dominant culture into the oppressed (and therefore “immature” masses who cyclically facilitate their own oppression). No small barrier: but one that is subject to change. This of course could be totalising and negative reinforcing dialectical change. But there is, at least in the realm of possibility for the moment, the chance for positive emancipatory change to emerge. They are not that powerful, our collective ignorance is their power base. I suggest, the future is ours if we want it. I want our future back!

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            Nostalgic for the future, are you, B? I fully agree with your observations. I wouldn’t worry too much about ‘exergy’, because our friend (for now)the Sun bathes us in it. We will need to humanely reduce population to one or two billion, by returning wealth to the people from the insatiably greedy kleptocrats who have stolen it over the millennia. That would drive a demographic transition to smaller families, and lower populations. If Iran can do it, anyone can. Then return half the planet or more to its natural state and live on a decent sufficiency of material things, and we could survive in the long-term. Today we’ll be gone in decades.

  4. Ivan says

    “Now openly admitted, governments and militaries around the world employ armies of keyboard warriors to spread propaganda..”

    My personal impression is that at least in what regards the people leaving comments, in general the majority of them, both pro western and anti western, do not get paid and express themselves voluntarily.

    • I find it is always helpful to periodically review what we know about the government trolling activities from the Snowden documents. I find there are considerably fewer obvious “trolls” here at the Off-guardian than at sites that are more middle of the road in their content. Those sites are the obvious places where the government trolls logically can be more effective in spreading doubt and discord because a good deal of their audience is less well informed than those at a site like this.

    • My personal impression is that at least in what regards the people leaving comments, in general the majority of them, both pro western and anti western, do not get paid and express themselves voluntarily.

      I get that impression as well. In the weird echo chamber world of the blogosphere having an opinion that doesn’t line up neatly with whatever dogma the regulars espouse is more often than not met with hostility and accusations of being a spy, traitor or enemy disinformation agent of some sort. I have been called a Putinbot, Mossad agent, CIA sockpuppet, Trump supporter, libtard, Assadist and, my favourite to date, closet headchopper. Changing one’s mind or not taking a side at all are also frowned upon.

      The way the opinions of the blog owner(s) are turned into dogmatic groupthink that is ritually repeated (affirmed) by the regulars is textbook cult like behaviour and happens at a subconscious level. As does the thought policing and punishing of dissenters. It’s disconcerting yet fascinating how easily intelligent and reasonable people fall into this pattern without noticing it. I include myself among those people but I managed to break the spell before it became too strong.

      Knowing a little bit about social psychology and how cognitive biases work helps build up resistance and one quickly notices just how prevalent this phenomenon is. Of course, like marketers and advertisers, media propagandists, intelligence agencies and social media companies are having a field day exploiting our psychological blind spots.

  5. There’s a wonderful Black Mirror episode that follows a sincere and authentic young man who falls for a woman he believes to be a talented singer. He encourages her to enter a televised talent show. Victory means escape from a hellish life powering their society on exercise bikes positioned in front of large TVs in what look like converted gyms, the lot of all ‘commoners’. Her attempt fails, but does land her a job as a horribly exploited porn star, held in that role by means of cynically administered, pacifying drugs. Enraged by this outcome, our hero then enters the talent show himself, and gives a very corruption-exposing, heartfelt and emotionally powerful speech, during which he holds a shard of glass at his throat, threatening suicide on live TV. Exciting stuff! But he too is tempted by escape from his hellish existence. His authentic, glass-shard ‘act’ becomes yet another item of consumption for a public in constant need of distraction.

    The problem is that we are in constant need of distraction. The solution lies in understanding why this is so and then addressing it.

    I believe we are in need of constant distraction because we are deliberately kept emotionally immature our entire lives by ‘The System’ from birth, up through of our educational experience and into the workplace. However, even though we are ‘victims’ in this, only we can do our growing up. In other words, it’s up to us to fix it. The Great They will not and cannot do it for us. Anger won’t get us there. Nor will blame. Nor will any lust for revenge. Though they, or any other emotion, might trigger us onto the path.

    In the end, we can only produce a society that reflects our aggregate maturity level.

    So, while we remain immature, even if we do manage to abstain from all social media and build new networks, they too will be co-opted and abused using exactly the same techniques explained above, until we are mature enough to resist this manipulation of our psychologies. That resistance, if it is to be healthy, durable and creative, can only emerge from mature or high-quality consciousness.

    Ergo, any revolution worth its salt has to be a revolution of consciousness driven by love, hence the clever slogan: reloveution.

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