Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dirty Tricks and the Internet

Ok, there has been lots of discussion and outrage about the “Vikileaks” Twitter campaign directed against Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

But what does it all mean?

Well first off, there is no question this was a nasty “Dirty Tricks” attack. It was personal, it was vicious, it was mean-spirited.

Which is why it’s getting so much attention.

But setting aside the ethics involved, you have to concede this enterprise was also a masterstroke of political insurgency warfare.

Without spending any money, and with only a little research, the creator of the Vikileaks Twitter account managed to inflict a serious wound on a federal cabinet minister.

And make no mistake, this did hurt Toews. Overnight he became a national laughing stock.

It also likely helped to focus public attention on the government’s controversial bill on Internet surveillance.

That’s pretty impressive.

And, of course, now the Conservatives are screaming “Dirty Tricks” and accusing the NDP of being behind the attack, without any real evidence.

This is not surprising. According to the standard Political Manual, whenever you get hit with some kind of damaging smear attack, it’s good strategy to feign outrage and pin the blame on your opponent, regardless of the facts.

At any rate, whoever pulled this stunt had better be good at covering his or her tracks, because the Tories would love to dump a train load of hurt on the perpetrator.

Mind you, what’s interesting about this attack isn’t the Dirty Tricks aspect. Like it or not, Dirty Tricks campaigns have been around as long as politics. That's not a pleasant thought, but it's reality.

In fact, I am pretty sure somebody in Ancient Rome handed out anonymously-written papyrus parchments containing embarrassing details about Julius Caesar.

What makes the Vikileaks campaign so fascinating is the medium it employed, i.e. Social Media.

Again, using just a free, simple Twitter account, somebody managed to rock the government and entrance the media. So in other words, anonymous mudslinging has never been easier!

What this means is we better get used to more of this cyber style Dirty Tricks politics in the future.

Yep, we are heading for a nasty new world.

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