Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.
This week’s My Five is by Joe.
1. Who owns the truth?
I have been reading a lot of articles this week about the use of propaganda in Russia.
The general consensus is that the Putin regime is brainwashing the average Russian through mainstream media. I have no doubt that this is highly likely. What staggers me, however, is why the West is so accepting of the suggestion that Russian media is a loudhailer for political propaganda without questioning whether maybe, just maybe, we (the Western world) are all subjected to the same barrage of lies.
If you know me, you will know that I have been highly critical of the media throughout the Covid experience. The lack of journalistic integrity has been painful to witness and it is becoming increasingly evident that the ‘truth’ that was fed to us was far removed from what was actually happening.
Putin is surely a master of using disinformation to confuse / misdirect foreigners and to bolster support at home. I am adamant, however, that western governments are also guilty of manipulating facts to suit their own politics. I hate to mention a certain Donald, but maybe he was right about the tidal waves of fake news that keep washing over the planet?
Who should we trust?
The quest for ‘the truth’ is increasingly difficult. The media continues to publish stories / imagery that further undermines the broken faith that I have in traditionally respected institutions, so I am sure that I am not the only one to turn to citizen journalism in an optimistic hope that the democratisation of news will reveal what is really going on.
Social media should be the perfect channel for citizen journalism but it is also subject to manipulation and the spread of disinformation is accelerated online, so it cannot be trusted without scrutiny. It is also not safe from infiltration of government bodies (*cough* 77 Brigade *cough*), so it is certainly not the utopia that one may hope for.
I am afraid that I have no answers. I hope that this week’s discussions about Russian propaganda will open everyone’s eyes to the possibility that we are suffering the same fate and that we will all learn to seek an evidence based approach to the dissemination of news, rather than blind faith in what our leaders tell us. Critical thinking is a lost art and one that we need to teach our children.
2. Reviewing a restaurant to topple a regime?
As noted above, the regime in Russia has a tight hold on the media. It is extremely difficult to voice any opinions that go against the narrative without very real risks of retribution.
A novel approach to getting such views aired in public was triggered this week by the masked ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous, who encouraged people to leave ‘reviews’ for Russian restaurants to cut through the state propaganda with this tweet:
Go to Google Maps. Go to Russia. Find a restaurant or business and write a review. When you write the review explain what is happening in Ukraine.
Idea via @Konrad03249040
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) February 28, 2022
It has proven to be a very popular ruse, with some very punchy ‘reviews’ left that hold no punches when describing the events in Ukraine. You can read some examples on this post.
A very novel approach and an effective way to avoid the state censorship, although I do wonder how long the reviews will be visible in Russia…
I probably should not admit that, as a digital marketer, I have some fairly severe misgivings about the very notion of the metaverse. In my defence, my concerns are a result of my role as a father and my general outlook that physical interaction with other humans is FAR more attractive to me than living in a virtual world. The metaverse all feels a bit 1984 to me – give me physical meet ups any day (the original FaceBook)!
There is no doubt, however, that there are some fascinating opportunities on offer with the arrival of a new virtual world. There are also huge risks. I was therefore very interested to read a post on Marketing Dive about the challenges of protecting brands in this new world. A very interesting read and it does a good job of showing how all that glitters is not gold.
There is a huge amount of hype around the metaverse but we really do need to think through how we manage the blend of real and virtual life. Whilst the temptation to jump on the bandwagon / FOMO is understandable, I think that more time is needed for strategic reflection.
4. The state of social media
I am cheating a bit on this one, but our very own Will did a great summary of Meltwater’s State of Social 2022 report this week and it is most definitely worth a read if you are interested in all things social media.
I am a big fan of annual bellwether reports and Meltwater does an excellent job of painting a picture of the evolution of how brands are embracing social media.
I was hoping to end the edition of My Five with something funny, as this week has obviously been a bit heavy on the world news front. I am not really sure whether the news of a knighthood for a certain failed cabinet minister made me laugh or cry. A new low for the British honours system?
I did, however, want to share my favourite tweet relating to the announcement. Short, but very sweet and it even has my name in it :-)
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) March 3, 2022
I hope you have a great end to your week and a relaxing weekend.