Government Propaganda Means You Get Censored

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  • The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 made it illegal for the U.S. government to distribute propaganda meant for non-American audiences.
  • The Act was “modernized” in 2012 and the prohibition removed.
  • As a result, if the government stands up a social media account meant to influence a foreign party, that same social media can be consumed domestically.
  • Social media is a borderless medium. An account set up in Ukraine and targeting Ukrainians, for example, will be consumed in Washington, D.C., New York, and California.
  • Whether the communication is authored by the government or anonymous, it ends up “muddying the waters” and confusing the public as to what is and is not true.
  • Paradoxically, the government is in the position of producing false or partially true information for consumption against adversaries, while at the same time holding the line against fraudulent information at home. For example, we want to prevent foreign countries from influencing our elections.
  • The American citizen has borne the brunt of efforts to control misinformation, with legitimate expressions of opinion stifled on the excuse that they allow falsehoods to fester.
  • To solve the problem of misinformation, the most efficient thing to do would be to repeal the Smith Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. This would force the U.S. government to stop the practice of distributing propaganda abroad that can be consumed by American audience. Specifically, it would rein in the accounts being created on social media.
  • To increase citizen trust in government, the most efficient thing the government can do is to stop interfering with social media platforms. No government agency should be policing what people say online.
  • There are risks associated with these actions. Propaganda is a powerful tool, and it can prevent armed conflict by simply scaring the enemy away. Similarly, there are people who abuse social media platforms to create waves of hysteria when none should exist.
  • However, we will have to come up with other ways to deal with such problems, because at the moment, the American public is utterly exhausted, confused, and perpetually polarized over problems that should be simple to recognize, address, and manage.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.