PsyOps / Information Warfare Operations

In this section, I look into the murky world of PsyOps / Psychological and Information Warfare Operations.

With the world swamped with noise from misinformation, disinformation, and fake news together with strategically planned psychological and information-based warfare operations sense-making is difficult. I look to figure out why and what we can do to protect ourselves from it. 

Deflective marketing and reflexive control; Chaos Architectures of Manipulation and Control

In this article I am looking at Deflective Marketing and Reflexive Control

The seeds of fear and doubt are addictive and contagious:

I recently posted the below on Facebook.

Thought of the day on the Chaos Architectures of Manipulation and Control

“Deflective marketing and reflexive control are mechanisms of shaping the narrative in a framing whereby the information architecture, from within which the argument draws its knowledge, is designed by the instigator for their desired outcome.

When chaos is added into these architectures of control and manipulation it is not to produce a specific desired outcome but to cause enough confusion and distraction to sow seeds of doubt and deflect from the alternative less desirable outcome for the instigator.

Therefore, these seeds of invasive manipulation, when watered, can grow and propagate in many different directions out of the control of the instigator with the aim of overpowering and suffocating what was growing there organically. The aim is the chaos that is ensued and not the ultimate outcome.”

I would now like to expand on this further and look at what it means to us as citizens of the world navigating the information ecosphere.

To some this sounds like mumbo jumbo and who knows maybe it is but maybe that is exactly what they, whoever they are, want you to think. What for example is deflective marketing? And why would anyone want to spend time and money on it? What is reflexive control? And who and why would they use or deploy it?

Deflective Marketing

Deflective marketing is exactly what it sounds like; it is marketing that is designed to deflect attention. But why in the world would someone want to spend time and money deflecting attention off something when it is hard enough to obtain people’s attention from marketing in the first place?

Well in the world of disinformation, misinformation and fake news if you can deflect attention from what you don’t want people to believe in, or vote for, by, for example, using social panic you can deflect attention to distract them from the main issue. It could be a social panic could be about something else designed to distract. Or it could be about dissing or undermining the authority on that very subject or issue at hand. With deflective marketing, you do not have, necessarily, control over the narrative and end result but you may at least be a disruptive influence within it.

Reflexive Control

The above is a technique used by those trying to deploy reflexive control. So, what is that? I hear you scream impatiently at the screen. Reflexive control is an attempt to control the information available within a subject, debate, country or setting so that only the information you want to be discussed, used for decision making or debated is seen to be within its frame for reference. And what does that mean? It means that you control, or attempt to, the sources of information people view as worthy of being a part of the said debate so as to avoid other more salient information that would not, or may not, be favourable to your desired outcome organisation.

Reflexive control is not necessarily carried out with an aim of controlling the outcome but possibly, and more often than not, it is to deflect attention from elsewhere or undermine the very institution that was considered to be the experts in the said field that we all used to rely on. So much so that people see more favourably the person, people, country, political party, business or institutions that the instigator of these campaigns is working for.  

And why Chaos Architectures of Control and Manipulation?

There is an expression that ‘some people just want to watch the world burn’ which is probably apt here. Chaos fits right in with this thinking; from the chaos, they can cause, to chaos theory and even chaos magick. It is a purposeful shaking of things up to get the desired result or just with the sole intention of causing chaos itself.

When I use the term architectures, I am referring to the choice selection, design and engineering of the information systems, and tools, we use to select and filter our information. These are, more often than not, designed and created by people that we in the marketing and advertising world would label behavioural architects or user experience designers. They design the very choice options and the very experience we walk through them, either literally or metaphorically, to achieve the desired outcome. Their ‘desired outcome’, but with the intention to make it look like a free choice.

Control and manipulation are self-explanatory but in this context; I mean that these chaos causing predefined architectures of choice and information are designed in such a way that we are being influenced without ever really knowing it and all the time believing it is a free choice. This is carried out with the desired result of manipulating our thinking and controlling the options of choice-making we have so that these are limited.

To wrap it up

If you add it all together; you get experience designers, behavioural architects and decision engineers planning out and designing deflective marketing disinformation or misinformation campaigns with the sole desire to mess with and unduly influence the information infrastructures to gain some reflexive control and disruptive influence on the outcome.

So, who would do such a thing? Take a look around. Look at how crazy the world feels right now. Look at the US or the UK and how both countries and many more in the west are split in two on politics and ideology and ask yourself who might benefit from that?

This is not a conspiracy theory. You only have to read my series so far on Russian Information Warfare to see one potential beneficiary. But to only look in one place and only look overseas is naive to the bigger, wider and far more complex answer to that question. From hackers and fraudsters to conmen, government agents, to big business and politicians to the information war cabinets of the world for both internal and external campaigns of influence the list is endless.

Being aware of the issue is the first step to protecting yourself from it.



Photo by Sinitta Leunen from Pexels:

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