On December 14, 2015 the NY Times claimed that the EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” in its social media efforts to support the President’s rule to better protect waterways. (See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/us/politics/epa-broke-the-law-by-using-social-media-to-push-water-rule-auditor-finds.html?_r=0,.)
The EPA was aggressively employing social media to support its mission. The agency mobilized efforts o Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube as a means of countering opposition (Republican of course) to its water rule. As the article notes, this campaign was one of many employed by the Obama administration as a way to go directly to the American public and bypassing traditional media.
Just as US military forces are legally barred from influencing US audiences, federal agencies are barred from using federal resources for lobbying – inducing citizens to contact Congress in support or opposition to pending legislation.
The nub of the issue seems to be whether or not an individual could easily determine if the message was written by a government entity. The classic argument put forward by the agency was that it was not hiding its role in the campaign.
A more recent piece appeared on December 17, 2015 (see: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/epa-propaganda-isnt-quite-dramatic-advertised, which is also the photo source) Said “EPA ‘propaganda isn’t quite as dramatic as advertised”
MSNBC pointed out the ‘paid pundit ploy’ during Bush administration as a counter weight to the current imbroglio.
The lesson learned for PSYOPers is that if you’re going to engage in “Gray” propaganda (meaning it’s not quite obvious who the source is), you had better be prepared for your informational adversaries to jump on it and cry “Propaganda!”.
You may inadvertently trigger this reaction even unintentionally if it is not abundantly clear as to who the source really is. Perhaps the real lesson here is that it is not what you say, but whether someone can tell you said it!