Yesterday I had the great pleasure of visiting Bletchley Park, the home of the UK WWII Codebreakers. I purchased a monograph “Black Propaganda” by John Pether which discusses the British Black Propaganda (BP) efforts against the Germans in WWII. For those unfamiliar with the term, there are three classes of propaganda:
1. White – true source readily identifiable
2. Black – designed to represent other than the true source
3. Gray – no indications of source.
Photo Source: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/hist/history.rhtm
During WWII Britain conducted a three pronged BP effort. They employed radio stations, printed matter and agents to foster a number of their influence goals such as creating resistance to the occupying forces and undermining the ‘quisling’ Nazi-supporting governments established in occupied countries.
Let me pose the question: if we arbitrarily divided target sets into urban and rural, is it possible that BP campaigns using the same media as well as more high tech media in appropriate markets (mobile phones, Internet, fax, e-mail, etc.) would be effective today?
My gut reaction is that they might be effective for very short period of times, but not in the long run. Furthermore, the negative impact of exposure would undermine whatever credibility the BP campaign promulgator might have had in the first place.
BP might be appropriate to achieve a very limited tactical objective such as trying to get an enemy force to behave or not behave in a certain manner for a short period of time.
Overall however, I believe as Gartner Analyst Richard Hunter put it, we live in “A World Without Secrets” (Available from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/World-Without-Secrets-Ubiquitous-Computing/dp/0471218162)
The close knit nature of tribes in rural target areas and the ultimate exposure of almost anything by Internet savvy Bloggers and others seem to guarantee that keeping sources secret over long period of times is not nearly as easy today as it was 50 or more years ago.
Reader comments earnestly solicited.