I think what social media produce is emergent propaganda — propaganda that is not directed in any specific and conscious sense by anyone but rather emerges, arises, from vast masses of people who have been catechized within and by the same power-knowledge regime.
The idea of emergent propaganda is alluring. Although, it makes me wonder what the difference would be between EP and “public opinion”.
I do think that the idea of public opinion is different from pre-social media time. Social Media isn’t just opening a window to what has and always been there – the window lets out as much as it lets in.
Yet, I’m not sure that I can lump concepts of ‘propaganda’ in with the non-deliberate.
Propaganda is deliberate. So, any emergent propaganda would mean that there’s some intentional force behind or within our technology or our hive minds.
In bringing Ellul’s description of propaganda into social technology of today, are we claiming that our technology, spaces, or collective are being deliberate?
It seems like backwards reasoning…although I’m not all that sure either way. At some point autonomy and intention does emerge.
If propaganda is now ‘crowdsourced’, there might be a tendency to associate it as democratic. Perhaps a phrase like “democratic propaganda” sets the dial between that what is undirected, but still not detached from intention.
As well, the difference between the words ‘construct’ and ‘construe’ seems to matter here. There is a conscious sense in which the propaganda is created, however it is the direction of the impact that emerges because the size, channel, and duration of the force needed to impact the general public nowadays is momentous. It’s even now difficult to create an impact in non-emergent ways.
Perhaps it’s the entry point at which someone begins using that emergent force for deliberate purposes. In this case, it might be better called Commandeered Propaganda. Or, Hijacked Opinion.