Thursday, October 13, 2011

The PSYOP of Protests - Occupy Wall Street Applied

There has been much ado about the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement here in the US during September and October of 2011. The late night news on 12 September had extensive coverage of how the ‘movement’ was spreading throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

As it turns out, I was attending the 1st San Jose Cyber Security Summit at the San Jose, CA City Hall. After watching the news last night I was more than curious to see the extent of the protest live. I took the photo in today’s posting using my iPhone, so I can assure you it was not retouched in any way. It turns out to be a ‘long shot’ with the tent accommodations of some of the protestors in the foreground and a bunch of ‘protestors’ about 75 feet away near Santa Clara Street, the main thoroughfare near the City Hall.

If the effect makes the entire effort look sparse – it’s because it was! This is in stark contrast to the tight shots being used on TV last night which gave the viewer the impression that there were quite a bit more protestors than in reality.

What’s all mean? Gatherings of crowds can serve useful purposes of anyone who is astute enough to photograph them in a way that supports their case. Magnifying the size and scope of a gathering serves to amplify the message. This amplification can serve to stimulate recruitment, increase media coverage, provide useful ‘background roll” for later use or all of the above.

Merely showing a group of people protesting doesn’t prove anything by itself. Analysts would have to look at the objective size of the crowd, their demographics, trends in the previous days or weeks and compare this analysis with other similar situations.

For influence professionals it’s a gift! Images of various demographic groups, particularly individuals whose image clearly portrays a specific group can be very effective in promoting one’s cause. Counter propaganda analysts need to not only perform the objective analysis , but determine the potential uses our enemy could make of the images and recommend what the best counter messages might be.

In the Internet age the local protest can turn into the strategic message very quickly.


Markus Allen said...

These "out of nowhere" protests are actually funded and planned by VERY big NGOs...

... I document this here:

Voodoo said...

Their videos are such blatant pieces of propaganda, where the camera person voices over what is happening as its happening, and people believe what they hear, as oppose to what's obviously happening on screen.

There's another great one out there where the Author conflates the experience of the protesters in the US to the protesters of the Iranian and Arab Spring.


On that note:

Why are PSYOP missions being farmed out to civilians who are seem to be entirely unqualified to conduct said missions? WTF Over?

Anonymous said...

Voodoo - perhaps the answer to question on "outsourcing" PSYOP efforts to civilian contractors has everything to do with effectiveness and longevity.

No matter how effective the initial PSYOP effort might be, one cannot escape the rotational nature and cyclic aspect of our force rotation.

Very, very few PSYOP programs can measure effectiveness. On the contrary - we can throw loads of Measures of performance up there - but actually measuring behavior change is far and few between.

Why is that, one might ask.

The answer is: Neither reserve nor active PSYOP forces are taught or equipped with the tools to conduct effective polling and discern temperament, mood, or behavior change.

Until we arm ourselves with statiscal models, develop proxy networks for dissemination and measurement, and truly conduct analysis instead of basing efforts on "hunches" - our craft will be outsourced to those who can provide those answers and measurements.

Voodoo said...

"one cannot escape the rotational nature and cyclic aspect of our force rotation."

Sure you can - you create a centralized command based at Bragg that manages and commands all PO elements in theater. While units rotate in and out of theater, the static institution of this command allows for long term planning and operations. Assets like these civilians would be operating under the auspices of the SSD, and not broadcasting their efforts to the public at large.