Near the tail end of 2011, the Obama administration caught a lot of ridicule for debuting a website they called (without irony) “Attack Watch,” devoted pretty much exclusively to trying to discredit their critics. Unfortunately for them, the idea became such a joke that these days, most people probably remember it as a parody video:
The tactic was so widely mocked that you wouldn’t expected it to have caught on. Yet apparently it did…in Europe.
The UK Telegraph reports:
The Daily Telegraph has seen confidential spending proposals and internal documents planning an unprecedented propaganda blitz ahead of and during European elections in June 2014.
Key to a new strategy will be “public opinion monitoring tools” to “identify at an early stage whether debates of political nature among followers in social media and blogs have the potential to attract media and citizens’ interest”.
Spending on “qualitative media analysis” is to be increased by £1.7 million and while most of the money is to be found in existing budgets an additional £787,000 will be need to be raised next year despite calls for EU spending to reflect national austerity.
“Particular attention needs to be paid to the countries that have experienced a surge in Euroscepticism,” said a confidential document agreed last year.
“Parliament’s institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand ‘trending topics’ and have the capacity to react quickly, in a targeted and relevant manner, to join in and influence the conversation, for example, by providing facts and figures to deconstructing myths.”[…]
Paul Nuttall, UKIP’s deputy leader, has attacked the proposals, which he said, violate the neutrality of the EU civil service by turning officials into a “troll patrol”, stalking the internet to make unwanted and provocative political contributions in social media debates.
“Spending over a million pounds for EU public servants to become Twitter trolls in office hours is wasteful and truly ridiculous,” he said.
Needless to say, Farage’s speeches might require more than a few hastily written Twitter responses by EU supporters.