What exactly is Black Propaganda? And what are examples of this form of propaganda?


What exactly is Black Propaganda? And what are examples of this form of propaganda?

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Black propaganda is propaganda that is presented as coming from a different source than its real origin.

An example of regular propaganda would be if the Russian government said they blew up 20 HIMARS in Ukraine. An example of “black propaganda” would be the Russian government instructing Pravda to run an article claiming that the Russian military blew up 20 HIMARS in Ukraine as verified by their independent reporters.

The original origin of the term was from a unit of british intelligence during the second world war that ran a radio station broadcast to germany that claimed to be an unofficial, but patriotic, german pirate radio station. It broadcast mostly pro-german news, much as the mainstream stations did – but every now and then dropped a fake news story in – often of the type of “the nazi’s are great but this guy here is incompetant and should be replaced” or “we just lost a big battle (but we’re still going to win of course)”.

The idea was to build an audience and then subtily depress morale and spread false rumours. Studies after the war showed around 10% of the german population listened to it, and all believed it was genuine. One of their big sucesses was broadcasting that potatoes were going to be rationed, that provoked panic buying that actually caused a potato shortage. (There’s nothing new under the sun.)

Black propaganda is propaganda that pretends it originates from the target it actually intends to defame or discredit.

The most famous example in history is the *Protocols of the Elders of Zion*. It’s a pamphlet that *purports* to be the meeting notes of a council of wealthy Jews who are plotting world domination. No such council ever existed, it’s a forgery that was actually written by the intelligence service of the Russian Empire, as a piece of antisemitic propaganda, intended to stir up hatred against Jews.

Another example was fake US Army leaflets that Japan air-dropped over the Philippines during WW2 as the Americans were moving in to liberate the islands from Japanese occupation. They appeared to be pamphlets published *by* the US Army, warning their own troops that Filipino women were promiscuous and disease-ridden and to use protection when soliciting them for cheap prostitution. Japan’s goal here was to make the Filipinos think that the Americans looked down on them and intended to sexually exploit their women.