Home Opinion Bell Pottinger’s downfall is not the end of the high tech Gupta propaganda machine

Bell Pottinger’s downfall is not the end of the high tech Gupta propaganda machine

4 min read
46

If you aren’t into politics or don’t know much about South Africa then you probably don’t care, or haven’t paid attention to the Bell Pottinger disaster that has been playing out for months now. Here’s a decent write up of the most recent events which have resulted in Bell Pottinger being kicked out of the UK’s Public Relations and Communications Association.

For many in South Africa, they thought it could be the end of the alleged unrelenting attacks on our economy, country and people by the powerful Gupta family. However while browsing the Destiny 2 Reddit subform this morning I noticed an odd promoted link at the top

image

Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured above) is the Deputy President of South Africa and is one of the politicians in the running to be elected as the next President of South Africa. Mr Ramaphosa is not known to be allied to the Gupta family, and over the weekend a huge news story broke from out of nowhere regarding how he has been having multiple extra marital affairs over the years. There was some debate in the country whether this news story was real or not – and if not then who would have been behind it. Was it the Democratic Alliance (the official opposition party of South Africa) or the loyalists to President Zuma who would like to see someone else succeed him. Or was it a third party?

The Reddit user who promoted the post was a throwaway account with absolutely no activity on Reddit bar this promoted article. If you head over to the article itself you will quickly see it’s a garbage story that is a blatant hack job on the man.

However when you scroll down you can guess who is actually behind this attack.

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So why are we even talking about this?

Well because it’s a major problem in the world right now. We see world leaders all over the planet being elected or getting into power on the back of basic lies, attacks and unbelievable inconsistencies. The easiest example is President Trump who did nothing throughout his election campaign other than deride the media, attack anyone who wasn’t part of his inner circle and then blatantly lie, over and over again. In previous years these lies would have seen the person lose quite quickly. However, there’s a certain brilliance in this strategy.

If you can convince people that the media is corrupt and lying to them then when they do their job and call you out on your countless lies, your support base will simply ignore them. It’s not a simple task though and it takes years concerted effort to pull off.

In our South African example, the local media houses and large corporations have been part of a sustained attack by unnamed parties on all fronts. We see journalists being attacked on Twitter, Facebook and in the real world by paid-for protestors.  They have set up hundreds of fake news websites so if you want to fact check certain things there will be hundreds of articles all backing up the false point. Bell Pottinger was caught with their pants down, literally writing speeches for politicians which were then backed up by random fake news sites.

This unrelenting attack on the truth is enough to wear down anyone who isn’t invested in the truth, which then allows the politicians to get away with daylight robbery. The perfect example is that whilst Bell Pottinger has been found guilty – twice –  local authorities have not yet taken any action against the Gupta family or the named politicians.

So how do we fight back against this unrelenting propaganda? I honestly don’t know. The Gupta family, or whoever is behind this onslaught, has unlimited finances to create thousands of media websites, twitter bots, Facebook accounts and they have even gone as far as creating their own 24/7 news channel which routinely publishes absolute garbage. They are the Fox News of South Africa.

However, there is one obvious way this can be fixed, or at least curbed. The large internet companies Google, Facebook and Reddit need to change their advertising policies and no longer flight false adverts like this. Yes, it’s a muddy line – but recently Facebook announced they will start blocking adverts from pages that spread false news and this is something that Google, Reddit and any other media company needs to start doing. There is a difference between someone having a different viewpoint and blatant propaganda.

The ANC (South Africa’s ruling party) also, until recently, had full control over what was broadcast on the local terrestrial networks which were forced to only show what they felt were acceptable stories. If the world’s largest super power, the United States of America, was brought to their knees via this policy what chance does a country the size of South Africa have? Let’s not start on Brexit either.In closing, be careful of what you see, hear and read online and off.

It’s becoming virtually impossible to tell what is the truth anymore and it’s not going to get better any time soon.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: September 6, 2017

46 Comments

  1. RinceThis

    September 6, 2017 at 11:19

    All true. Many people worry though that if you edit what appears on google etc that it is a slippery slope. Do we then start limiting people’s speech? Who decides?

    Reply

  2. For the Emperor!

    September 6, 2017 at 11:41

    My only “problem” with the mentioned politician, is that he didn’t speak out publicly about these things as they happened “under his watch”, until now.

    Reply

    • For the Emperor!

      September 6, 2017 at 11:46

      https://pics.me.me/caution-tin-foil-hat-area-19232277.png

      When the allegations of corruption etc started coming to light, the governing party were silent. Then they started backing the person. The plan was always to start “fighting” the corruption and “deal with” those involved as we got closer to the next election so they could claim “we are turning a new leaf” and “we are against corruption”, meanwhile they were complicit in either their silence or actively participating and have a few public “scape goats” lined up for the fall now.

      Reply

  3. Guild

    September 6, 2017 at 11:51

    With the amount of fake news crap popping up, I have older family members linking absolute bullshit articles because they can’t tell real from fake. It’s insane how easy it is to fool them.

    Reply

    • Magoo

      September 6, 2017 at 12:06

      Hear hear

      Reply

    • R1ker

      September 6, 2017 at 13:29

      Geez i know. Whenever i see these i always comment that this is fake news and you would be surprised at how many challenge that statement

      Reply

      • Guild

        September 6, 2017 at 13:36

        Most typical response I get is “How do you know?” and I end up wasting time explaining why that “News” site is bullshit and identifiable as fake. Lately though I get the link via Whatsapp and they wait for a response as if to test it on me whether they can post it on social media or spread it in the weird community whatsapp groups they have.

        Reply

        • Gavin Mannion

          September 6, 2017 at 13:38

          The worst response is.. okay it may be fake but it could be something that could happen so we should spread it

          Reply

          • R1ker

            September 6, 2017 at 13:40

            Those responses makes my blood boil. I have actually on followed / unfriend people because of the utter nonsense that they spread

          • Guild

            September 6, 2017 at 13:42

            Unfortunately for me the people who make these posts are family and usually over 60. So unfollow/unfriend or blocking their phone number so I don’t get Whatsapp’s from them would cause big unnecessary fights.

          • R1ker

            September 6, 2017 at 13:45

            Jap – true that. On vleis broek I have un followed family members that post nonsens but they are still on my friend list. Then they aren’t any wiser and i don’t see their shit

            Edit: Oh and in my case it’s not even older people but sometimes people my age and younger as well. People are extremely gullible

          • Guild

            September 6, 2017 at 13:41

            That is the most ignorant response you could get. Seriously, it “potentially” could happen so lets spread it??? Great fucking logic

    • BradeLunner

      September 6, 2017 at 22:53

      Good call out, and very true and very concerning. That is why, even though we don’t see ourselves as invested in this, that we must atleast educate our families

      Reply

  4. Admiral Chief

    September 6, 2017 at 12:06

    How do we know THIS article is real?

    Reply

    • Magoo

      September 6, 2017 at 12:07

      Hey shut up you!

      Reply

    • RinceThis

      September 6, 2017 at 12:09

      It isn’t Friday?

      Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      September 6, 2017 at 12:12

      Yes I realise the irony there…

      Maybe this one’s real because I”m not supporting any candidate.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        September 6, 2017 at 12:21

        I SUPPORT THE BEER

        Reply

  5. Magoo

    September 6, 2017 at 12:11

    One flaw in democracy is that “as jy dom is moet jy sikkle” applies to the whole damn country.

    Reply

  6. Skittle

    September 6, 2017 at 12:14

    Every media is biased one way or another. If you call out Fox News you need to call out Huff Po (different sides of the same coin). A smart person would read multiple news sources, take the bias into account and then form their own opinion.

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      September 6, 2017 at 12:23

      Yeah Huffpro is also shit..

      However there is also a difference between the ANN7/Foxnews/Huffpro stuff compared to the linked article which is just pure propaganda

      Reply

      • BakedBagel

        September 6, 2017 at 14:23

        ANN7 was/is literally the propaganda arm of the Gupta’s. They owned it lmao

        Reply

        • Gavin Mannion

          September 6, 2017 at 14:48

          Yes.. but it’s more legitimate than some blob just thrown up on the internet.

          Broadcast media does get monitored a bit at least

          Reply

    • Gluten-free Cheese Puffs

      September 6, 2017 at 14:56

      Huffing Paint Post is beyond shit… Salon too (although recently with their money problems they’ve been trying to claw their way back by posting relatively “more objective” crap then their usual “woke-ass” crap.

      Reply

  7. konfab

    September 6, 2017 at 12:15

    I don’t think it is the place for any authority, be it government or a large organisation to decide what is truthful and what isn’t.
    What these organisations should be doing is putting out a truth that is better than the lies that Bell Pottinger et al do so regularly.

    The fundamental pinning of democracy hinges on the people making decisions about who they choose to be their leaders. Not what the government or Google, or Facebook tell them is fake or not.
    If you don’t like the idea of people people being influenced by nefarious sources, then you might has well say we should be restricting the franchise to people who can pass a 3 hour test on economics, philosophy and ethics.

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      September 6, 2017 at 12:24

      That idea works only when everyone is playing fair. Pumping millions into purely fake media stories isn’t something that the truth can fairly compete with.

      Reply

      • konfab

        September 6, 2017 at 12:36

        They are playing perfectly fair. In the game of democracy, if you influence the majority, you win.

        If you don’t like that, then maybe the game we are playing as a society is the wrong game .

        Reply

        • Gavin Mannion

          September 6, 2017 at 12:52

          well I do think Democracy is a total farce. But even if you believe in democracy it was invented during a time when this sort of undermining wasn’t possible.

          Reply

          • BakedBagel

            September 6, 2017 at 14:25

            Problem is, Is there a better game than democracy? All the others have ended in very terrible situations.

          • Gavin Mannion

            September 6, 2017 at 14:50

            I support a version of democracy where everyone is born with a single vote but you can earn more votes.

            So if you pay R1m in tax you get an extra vote as you are giving a lot back to the country
            anyone with a PHD gets an extra vote
            any teacher gets an extra etc etc..

            It becomes very complex etc but the idea that the bum on the street who has no idea what is happening has the same say as someone who studies and understands global politics just feels wrong

          • BakedBagel

            September 6, 2017 at 14:58

            Very difficult. Big ups for atleast thinking about a Democracy hot fix.

            I would like to see, every time a president changes the rule book needs to be looked over and re-verified. Everything, how votes are accumulated to policy changes. More review of the system at regular x number of year intervals would help, i think.

          • BradeLunner

            September 6, 2017 at 22:57

            Not sure if this is the right way, and this coming from someone who will have more than one vote, but I don’t have a better idea yet! Have to go with you then Gav (alas)

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      September 6, 2017 at 12:36

      “A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”

      Terry Pratchett, The Truth.

      Reply

  8. Admiral Chief

    September 6, 2017 at 12:29

    Don’t read news. Rather read CH and troll the comments

    Reply

    • konfab

      September 6, 2017 at 12:42

      Don’t read news or CH. Rather just troll the comments

      >:3

      Reply

      • Gluten-free Cheese Puffs

        September 6, 2017 at 14:55

        Good man! 😀

        Reply

  9. Gluten-free Cheese Puffs

    September 6, 2017 at 14:55

    Don’t worry guys, Jimmy Manyi can buy Bell Pottinger on behalf of the Gupta brothers too. The guy is apparently loaded now (lol)

    Reply

  10. BradeLunner

    September 6, 2017 at 22:58

    I think we have a bigger part to play than we assume

    Reply

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