The use of social media to post political opinions and emotional tirades against the opposition is nothing new.
During the 2016 general election, Facebook and Twitter posting was a pivotal part of candidates’ campaigns.
And the rise in social media use has led to the rise of a booming new industry.
It is now commonplace for campaigns and corporations to hire paid digital activists to spread their views, or control the views of others.
Newsmax reported on the comments of Matthew Brown, who analyzes the use of this new form of propaganda:
“Digital activists are paid employees,” Brown said. “Their purpose is to attack anyone who’s posting something contrary to the view of the page owner wants expressed.”
Those activists are active on social media platforms like Facebook, Brown said. He used software to analyze 226,000 Facebook posts that were pro-Obamacare. They were posted by 40,000 Facebook profiles.
“Sixty percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time,” Brown said. “They were paid to post.”
The practice often involves “zombie profiles” that automatically post at certain times of the day. Those posts also receive “zombie likes” to make them appear more popular than they are.
The use of political propaganda is nothing new. Its roots can be found to date back as early as ancient Rome.
And during the first two World Wars, propaganda for and against world leaders and politicians became a fine art.
But in this digital age, paid employees used to spread digital propaganda is the new norm.
The practice has even coined the term “astroturfing” for its reference to grassroots campaigns that seem to spread political fact and opinion by private individuals or small groups — when, in fact, the information is a controlled campaign conceived and funded by corporations, political or public relations firms.
The term was coined in the 1980s in reference to letter writing campaigns paid for by large corporate industries to discredit potential candidates who were not thought to be supportive of the corporation — and therefore needed to be “smeared” in the media.
During the most recent presidential campaign season, it was found the Hillary Clinton camp created a booming social media presence, the so-called “Correct The Record,” comprised of paid Internet activists who were to discredit Bernie Sanders and the Republican candidates, as well as paint Hillary in a saintly light.
The Daily Caller reported last year on the paid social media propaganda campaign created by the Clinton camp:
Reddit users (also known as redditors) are growing increasingly angry at pro-Hillary Clinton political action committee (PAC) Correct The Record over its efforts to promote a pro-Hillary narrative on the site.
Redditors are especially concerned that Correct the Record’s paid internet commenters are suppressing revelations from WikiLeaks’ release of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, which have produced a flood of damaging revelations about the Clinton campaign.
Correct The Record is open about its efforts to combat “lies and misleading narratives about Secretary Hillary Clinton” on Reddit, to which it devoted one million dollars.
A coordinated effort to “downvote” a post could keep it from reaching a large audience on the site.
Due to the anonymity the site provides its users, however, it’s impossible to know the extent of Correct The Record’s Reddit campaign.
But some Redditors are nevertheless sure that the PAC is actively trying to suppress negative stories about Hillary Clinton from the Podesta emails.
In recent months, the “fake news” buzz has gained ground with the discovery of paid employees used to increasingly post propaganda on online message boards and more well-known sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The practice of astroturfing is not going away anytime soon, and more than ever, teaches the American public not to believe everything they read.