As the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods continues its public hearings on the issue, it seems apt to take a step back and consider the whole matter of “disinformation” and “fake news” from a wider historical and conceptual perspective.
These terms have deeper conceptual, historical roots in the much older term “propaganda”. Some scholars suggest that the word “propaganda” evolved as a result of Pope Gregory XV creating the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome in 1622. Hence, the origins of the term “propaganda” were honourable and related to the dissemination of religious ideals.
Previously, radio and newspapers – and later television – were seen as strategic propaganda mechanisms par excellence. Today, thanks to technological advances, social media platforms on non-private settings, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, could also be said to have potentially strategic impact.
… Kumar Ramakrishna is Associate Professor, head of Policy Studies and coordinator of the National Security Studies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This article was first published in RSIS Commentaries.
Last updated on 28/03/2018