Firehosing really, really annoys me.
What is it though ? From Wikipedia :- The firehose of falsehood is a propaganda technique in which a large number of messages are broadcast rapidly, repetitively, and continuously over multiple channels (such as news and social media) without regard for truth or consistency.
Governments, oppositions, lobby groups all use “Firehosing” to try and swing opinion.
To my way of thinking it’s a bloody disgusting technique and is yet another Social Engineering strategy. Social meda including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et. al. are able to be bent to the will of what I call the Firehosers. They can have a huge audience, a monstrously huge audience, that can share the Firehosing in all its demented glory.
We’ve all seen how a Facebook post, for example, can spread like wildfire so that quite soon a huge number of people have seen and shared it. It’s the same with the other social media platforms. Firehosing makes brilliant use of this to spread lies, mis-information and misdirection.
Trying to counter Firehosing with the truth is a futile exercise as the Firehoser doesn’t care, they just carry on with the next lie or piece of mi-information or misdirection..
Whilst trying not to be party partisan – before the last Australian election I was watching the leader of the opposition on the ABC’s Q&A explain that his government, should he be elected, would definitely not be introducing a death tax. He explained that the so called “retirement tax” was nothing of the sort – it was rolling back a government handout to some retirees who had a decent sized share portfolio. He explained that the changes to “Negative Gearing” would only effect new purchases of already built houses. It wouldn’t effect already negatively geared houses and it wouldn’t apply to new housing. The leader of the opposition spent about forty minutes debunking all of the lies and mis-information.
While I was watching Q&A I was also watching Twitter and Facebook. The firehosing was continuing unabated. Seconds after the leader of the opposition debunked a lie or bit of mis-information I would see a tweet or a facebook post saying that what the opposition leader said was a lie and that the opposite was true. eg. The opposition leader said that there will be no death tax and seconds later there would be a post saying that was a lie and that there would be.
As the 2019 Australian election proved to me that firehosing works. Political leaders around the world will be well served to work out a technique to combat it. In the last American presidential election there was firehosing in the extreme from all parts of the political spectrum. In the UK Brexit debate there’s firehosing from all sides.
It matters not how many experts quote numerous studies saying that the firehosers are wrong they will just ignore the facts and keep the firehose pumps running.
It doesn’t matter how much you try to combat the falsehoods and misdirections you’ll only be a small bit of chatter that easily gets lost in the storm. Firehosing relies on an absolute torrent of rubbish that gets spread far and wide and quickly. Trying to keep up and spread corrections just can’t work.
Firehosing is a social engineering technique and inflaming public sentiment is how it works and was put to very effective use by Randolph Hearst as long ago as the 1890’s. Social media has been the great enabler. I guess Firehosing will be with us until social media and instant communication die out.