Media, Information Control and Misinformation

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Propaganda isn’t new. But propaganda in our modern age has a problem; we have access to more knowledge than ever before. Propaganda has to innovate. If a country claims something that is untrue, then it won’t last long in such an environment. Someone will always be able to refute it. Because of that, weaponising information in the 21st Century means in order for propaganda to work you have to deliberately induce the lack of faith in the information available to us. You have to make people no longer trust the knowledge they can access. In short- what Russia has deliberately and systematically done over the last two decades. And done very well. Putin’s Russia didn’t just start lying like all other propagandists before them, no, they systematically undermined our belief in the very information we now had access to.

Source: https://m.imgur.com/gallery/5W8FZAJ
 
Elements of propaganda, from Hitler's last radio speech, January 30th 1945
  • the others wanted to destroy us
  • we are better than they
  • we will prevail in the end
  • it's fate, and god is with us
All of this was bunk.

These are myths, designed to keep people fighting.
Everyone uses them, it's just not always as obvious they're bunk.
 
Elements of propaganda, from Hitler's last radio speech, January 30th 1945
  • the others wanted to destroy us
  • we are better than they
  • we will prevail in the end
  • it's fate, and god is with us
All of this was bunk.

These are myths, designed to keep people fighting.
Everyone uses them, it's just not always as obvious they're bunk.

How a False Flag Sparked World War Two: The Gleiwitz Incident Explained​

31 Aug 2018​

In the days prior to the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Nazis initiated a campaign designed to persuade the international community that Germany was the victim of Polish aggression. Adolf Hitler intended to use this aggression to justify the invasion.

In the German press, reports appeared claiming that German nationals living in Poland had been subjected to torture. But something more eye-catching was needed to convince the world of Poland’s provocation.

In early August, Schutzstaffel (SS) leader Reinhard Heydrich had gathered together a select number of SS officers at a hotel in Gleiwitz. He informed them of a plan to stage a series of border incidents – so called “false flag” operations.

By 31 August, German tanks were massed on the Polish border and the SS – with assistance from the Abwehr (German intelligence) – put its plan into action...
 
Nice, the thread is back, except for the post that got shifted to Rambles. (2x TASS)

I'd like to clarify my intentions with regard to this discussion:

1) The thread is about "Media, information control, and misinformation" in the Ukraine-Russia war. It's about how media are used to push narratives, or to counter them, and when that involves misinformation, it concerns metabunk's purpose. We've already been talking about these issues as part of the Current Events thread.

2) that other post wasn't really about Hitler, it was about elements of propaganda, with Hitler as an example. I know I could have elaborated more on that particular post.

Elements of propaganda, from Hitler's last radio speech, January 30th 1945
  • the others wanted to destroy us
  • we are better than they
  • we will prevail in the end
  • it's fate, and god is with us
Re: the first one, we have Russia painting Ukraine as aggressor; for Ukrainians, this looks like
FMgjC5BaQAI_n_v.jpg


"We are better", from the Ukrainian side, is stories about the Russian advance being slow, bad morale, bad equipment etc. vs. heroic Ukrainians. I don't really know how the Russian side portrays this.

An example for "we will prevail" from today:

Many difficult decisions have been made these past days. We had to manoeuvre to save the army. But we will get all of our land back.


And we also see righteousness rhetoric, from Zelenski when he says Ukraine is fighting for Europe, and from Putin with his "liberation" spin on the invasion.

The use of propaganda isn't morally bad, everyone does it, and it's probably necessary and very useful in war (although it invites wars fought to destruction). But since propaganda needs only to be useful, and not necessarily true, from a debunking perspective all claims that are propagandist in nature should be met with skepticism if not accompanied by suitable evidence.

For example, there's an administration building on fire at a nuclear power station. The Ukrainians say it's on fire because the Russians shelled it, and the Russians say that the Ukrainians set it on fire themselves. My take is that, initially, neither side knows what really happened, so both sides issue propaganda accusing the other side ("the other side is bad"), hoping it later turns out true, and if not, that nobody pays attention any more by then. There simply is not enough evidence now, certainly not in public.

tl;dr There's a good reason for propaganda, everyone does it, be wary of bunk.
 
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It's a simple way to tell who's the aggressor. Not very original though.
My metric us simpler... "who's forces cross the border first?" is a darn good rule of thumb. With the caveat that this says nothing about whether aggression was justified -- some might say it never is, but in any case it is a separate question.
 
I'd like to clarify my intentions with regard to this discussion:

1) The thread is about "Media, information control, and misinformation" in the Ukraine-Russia war. It's about how media are used to push narratives, or to counter them, and when that involves misinformation, it concerns metabunk's purpose. We've already been talking about these issues as part of the Current Events thread.

and how do your first two blurry imgur images do that? and what are all those links in the OP supposed to be about?
 
It's a simple way to tell who's the aggressor.
I'm not going to say Russia isn't the aggressor, but I expect the claim that Ukraine would no longer exist as a country or a nation is exaggerated. There's not really any proof, the slogan describes a feeling.

For example, Georgia still exists, and has applied to join the EU a few days ago.

My metric us simpler... "who's forces cross the border first?" is a darn good rule of thumb. With the caveat that this says nothing about whether aggression was justified -- some might say it never is, but in any case it is a separate question.

Controversies relating to the Six-Day War​


The Six-Day War was fought between June 5 and June 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt [known then as the United Arab Republic (UAR)], Jordan, and Syria. The Six-Day War began with a large-scale surprise air strike by Israel on Egypt and ended with a major victory by Israel.

In 2002 radio broadcast NPR correspondent Mike Shuster stated that "[t]he prevailing view among historians is that although Israel struck first, the Israeli strike was defensive in nature."
 
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I'm not going to say Russia isn't the aggressor, but I expect the claim that Ukraine would no longer exist as a country or a nation is exaggerated. There's not really any proof, the slogan describes a feeling.

For example, Georgia still exists, and has applied to join the EU a few days ago.
Putin justified the invasion by basically ranting that Ukraine was created by Communist Russia, and it shouldn't exist as an independent nation.


Putin’s imperial ambitions against Ukraine and other nations are ahistorical​

Unsurprisingly, the political climate that has defined our very recent past has driven much of what is being said in the media and has often presented this war as one for which “the other side” is somehow responsible.

As a professor of history, I have urged my students to ignore such arguments for a few reasons.
Amongst my objections are that engaging in them removes blame from where it belongs – 100% on the shoulders of Vladimir Putin.
But more importantly because a close reading of Putin’s own words makes it quite clear that the immediate impetus of this war has little to do with the west and more to do with his imperial ambitions.

In the opening segments of his nearly hour-long address last week, Putin unveiled an ahistorical rant on Ukraine complete with a “stab in the back” myth to rival that deployed by Adolf Hitler in the wake of Germany’s World War I defeat.

In Putin’s version, modern Ukraine was “completely created by Russia” and, more specifically, by “Bolshevik Communist Russia.”
In a long list of grievances that begins with Vladimir Lenin, works its way through Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev, and ends with late Soviet leadership, Putin assails the actors who allowed Ukraine to assert its independence in 1991 and steal the territory “given” to it from Russia.

Having no real tradition of statehood and governance, Putin argued, the illegitimate Ukrainian state worked to assume the trappings of democracy but festered internally from corruption until the “coup” of 2014 when “nationalist radicals” captured power from those supporting “constitutional law” (ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, a staunch Putin ally, is currently living in exile in Russia).

With his speech, Putin laid the groundwork not so much for a fight against NATO and the west but rather a fight against history and a fight to save those he claims have suffered from it, people he says are “an inherent part of [Russia’s] history, culture, spiritual space.”

At the risk of spending too much time comparing Putin to Hitler, I will make only passing reference to the Sudeten Germans here. With Russia’s invasion now underway, though, many analysts have pondered over Putin’s next goal.
...
All this is to say that history is very much in play here and the musings of those who ignore it to focus instead on peripheral squabbles serve only to enable those who are truly responsible and blind us to what could come next.

Sean McDaniel, Ph.D., is a specialist in Russian and Soviet history and currently teaches at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.
 
Several Western media organizations moved on Friday to suspend their journalistic operations in Russia in the wake of a harsh new crackdown on news and free speech by President Vladimir V. Putin’s government.

Bloomberg News and the BBC said their correspondents in Russia could no longer freely report because of the new censorship law signed by Mr. Putin on Friday, which effectively criminalized independent journalism on the invasion of Ukraine. Under the legislation, which could take effect as early as Saturday, journalists who simply describe the war as a “war” could be sentenced to prison.

The censorship law builds on the Kremlin’s insistence that characterizations of its attacks on Ukraine as a “war” or “invasion” rather than a “special military operation” amount to disinformation. Its passage prompted several independent Russian media outlets to shut down their operations, as well.
 

Internet Disconnect​

2019​


In the next two weeks, Russia is planning to attempt something no other country has tried before. It’s going to test whether it can disconnect from the rest of the world electronically while keeping the internet running for its citizens. This means it will have to reroute all its data internally, rather than relying on servers abroad.

The test is key to a proposed “sovereign internet” law currently working its way through Russia’s government. It looks likely to be eventually voted through and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, though it has stalled in parliament for now.


Local news agencies, including Pravda, reported the deputy head of the Ministry of Communications had said that the tests of the scheme had gone as planned.

"The results of the exercises showed that, in general, both the authorities and telecoms operators are ready to effectively respond to emerging risks and threats, to ensure the stable functioning of both the internet and unified telecommunication network in the Russian Federation," said Alexey Sokolov.

The state-owned Tass news agency reported the tests had assessed the vulnerability of internet-of-things devices, and also involved an exercise to test Runet's ability to stand up to "external negative influences".

2021​

MOSCOW, July 22 (Reuters) - Russia managed to disconnect itself from the global internet during tests in June and July, the RBC daily reported on Thursday, citing documents from the working group tasked with improving Russia's internet security.

Russia adopted legislation, known as the "sovereign internet" law, in late 2019 that seeks to shield the country from being cut off from foreign infrastructure, in answer to what Russia called the "aggressive nature" of the United States' national cyber security strategy.

The legislation caused consternation among free speech activists, who feared the move would strengthen government oversight of cyberspace.

Tests involving all Russia's major telecoms firms were held from June 15 to July 15 and were successful, according to preliminary results, RBC cited a source in the working group as saying.

"The purpose of the tests is to determine the ability of the 'Runet' to work in case of external distortions, blocks and other threats," the source said.

Another RBC source said the capability of physically disconnecting the Russian part of the internet was tested.

The law stipulates that tests be carried out every year, but operations were called off in 2020 due to complications with the COVID-19 pandemic, RBC said.

The legislation seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and build a national Domain Name System to allow the internet to continue working even if Russia is cut off.

Now​

#Russia began active preparations for disconnection from the global Internet
No later than March 11, all servers and domains must be transferred to the #Russian zone.

As part of its resilience operation to ensure news is available in Ukraine and Russia, the BBC has also stepped up services on other platforms. It has launched two new shortwave frequencies in the region for four hours of World Service English news a day. These frequencies can be received clearly in Kyiv and parts of Russia.

Additional shortwave frequencies are: 15735 kHz 1400–1600 GMT (Kyiv is GMT+2) and 5875 kHz 2000-2200 GMT (Kyiv is GMT+2).


Source: https://mobile.twitter.com/nexta_tv/status/1500553480548892679
 

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And apparently he was quoting either Golda Meir or Abba Eban. Haven't confirmed that though.
The opposite perspective is, "If the jews lay down their arms, there will be no more war, but if Palestine lays down its arms, there will be no more Palestine."

The scheme doesn't really reflect facts so much as a perceived power imbalance and a feeling. You can't use it if you're not the underdog, but it doesn't mean it's correct in its prediction of annihilation.
It's great propaganda, though.
 
The opposite perspective is, "If the jews lay down their arms, there will be no more war, but if Palestine lays down its arms, there will be no more Palestine."
That would be as backwards as saying that if Russia didn't invade Ukraine, there would be no more Russia.

The scheme doesn't really reflect facts so much as a perceived power imbalance and a feeling. You can't use it if you're not the underdog,
The whole point of the quote is to imagine each side disarming and being weaker than the other side, to focus on who's the aggressor regardless of who's actually weaker.
 
The whole point of the quote is to imagine each side disarming and being weaker than the other side, to focus on who's the aggressor regardless of who's actually weaker.
I don't think that's how it works. The idea of the smaller country annexing the bigger one is simply ludicrous, because the smaller country wouldn't have the power to do it anyway, and that's why the scheme works.

The knack for the successful propagandist is to reframe this so the side you're not supporting looks bad. So Israel frames this as "Israel vs the Arab world", pointing at the troop build-up preceding the 6-day war etc., and the Arabs frame it as "Palestine vs. Israel", pointing to Jerusalem, the West Bank, Golan Heights, and (previously) the Gaza Strip.

That would be as backwards as saying that if Russia didn't invade Ukraine, there would be no more Russia.
Which is why Russia is framing it as "Ukraine (nazis) vs. russian minorities", pointing to the state language law and the ultranationalists, and claiming a "genocide". (Have they shown evidence of the genocide yet? or is that Kraken still to be released?)

There is no "simple way" unless you're just reinforcing a previous belief; it's better to weigh the evidence, and accept that reality has more shades than black and white.
 
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i'm talking about the Opening Post. what are those 2 imgur links about?
The two imgur links are auto-generated source links (see the word "Source:" on the previous line, on the right) for the imgur content embedded into the post that you see above these links.
like can you give a summary of why we should click those links.
I don't think you should click them, necessarily?

I usually follow embedded content (e.g. from reddit, Twitter or youtube) to the source if I want to see comments/reactions on the original platform, investigate the author, access the original quality of image or video content, download Youtube subtitles, look for a Twitter thread unroll, etc.
 
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Anti-war feeling is growing in Russia with people in the country “rapidly beginning to realise who is responsible for initiating the conflict”, opposition leader Alexey Navalny has claimed.

A series of snap polls carried out by the Anti-Corruption Foundation, an organisation founded by Mr Navalny, found that there have been “rapid shifts in the evaluation of the war” among Russian people.


Therefore we decide to hold a series of 4 quick, ultra-short online polls. Each of them included 700 participants from Moscow, all of them Internet users; quota sampling by gender and age took place.

this is not a nationwide poll. We don’t know the relation between these figures and the general population. However, running 4 survey waves in a short timeframe while adhering to the same method gave us an opportunity to observe the dynamics of public opinion
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Russian source: https://navalny.com/p/6615/
 
The opposite perspective is, "If the jews lay down their arms, there will be no more war, but if Palestine lays down its arms, there will be no more Palestine."
Israel's enemies don't say that, though. They say, "Death to Israel" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," and burn Israeli flags.
 
And apparently he was quoting either Golda Meir or Abba Eban. Haven't confirmed that though.
I thought so too, but apparently not.
The famous Golda Meir quote is, "Peace will come when the Arabs start to love their children more than they hate us."
Abba Eban wrote, "I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender."
 
Israel's enemies don't say that, though. They say, "Death to Israel" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," and burn Israeli flags.
Like this (from 2018, flag burning included)?

A crowd of around 100 Ukrainian far-right demonstrators attacked institutions linked to Russia during a nationalist rally held in Kyiv under the slogan "Death to Russia" on February 18.

Or this (2012)?

A number of fundamentalist Israeli members of Knesset (MK) stated that they will be burning a Palestinian flag in front of the United Nations office in occupied Jerusalem, in protest to UN’s approval of Palestine as a nonmember sate.


We're talking about propaganda here, not about Israel; and everyone has an anecdote to support their version of the truth. It's a bad way to talk to each other, but it works well as propaganda.
 
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We're talking about propaganda here, not about Israel; and everyone has an anecdote to support their version of the truth. It's a bad way to talk to each other, but it works well as propaganda.

We're also nutpicking. In a population measured in millions, there will be enough people who stand out with their marginal views that they become noticed by the various media, even if they are a small minority. In particular as a lot of the noisier people and events tend to be single issue, meaning that groups that possibly widely disagree on most things (e.g. US marines and Afghan Taliban) might briefly unite to push a single issue (e.g. an anti-Russia stance), which gives them leverage, making the support base look much broader than it actually is.
 
not sure if this is "information control" or "misinformation" or just Putin not knowing, but:

Russia's defense ministry acknowledged on Wednesday that some conscripts were taking part in the conflict with Ukraine after multiple denials by President Vladimir Putin, who said only professional soldiers and officers had been sent in.

...
On Tuesday, Putin had insisted that there were no conscripts.

"I emphasize that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists," Putin said in a televised message to mark International Women's Day.



just adding this part from same article, because if true that would explain alot (bold added for emphasis)
But notably, Russia has mandatory conscription, where all men aged 18-27 must be drafted for a year of army service. These conscripts are poorly trained and suffer from poor treatment and hazing.

According to The Washington Post, the Russian Army's logistics units are largely operated by conscripts.
 

A number of fundamentalist Israeli members of Knesset (MK) stated that they will be burning a Palestinian flag in front of the United Nations office in occupied Jerusalem, in protest to UN’s approval of Palestine as a nonmember sate.

And here's how that went down.


Police Grab PLO Flag as MKs were About to Light It​

Police pushed MKs Eldad and Ben Ari and stopped them from burning PLO flags in protest of UN statehood bid.

"The State of Israel ignores the burning of Israel's flag in every Arab village but sends police to violently grab flags from Knesset members who want to declare – 'there will be no Arab state'," said Eldad.

The two Knesset members succeeded in burning a PLO flag at a later hour, as a photo posted on their Facebook page shows.

There certainly are fundamentalists who don't recognize a Palestinian Arab state, but the scuffle with the police showed that they're not in charge the way Hamas rules Gaza and the Ayatollah rules Iran.

Ukrainian far-right extremists have also clashed with police and aren't in charge. I think Svoboda holds one seat in the Verkhovna Rada, the Right Sector doesn't hold a single seat, but the pro-Russian Opposition Platform - For Life is the second-biggest party, with 43 seats out of 424.
 
It's very important with this, especially when going into specifics, not to stick terms together. Information Control references the overall capability and/or act of controlling information. Propaganda is information meant too *promote* a specific cause or point of view. Mis- Dis- and Mal- Information (MDM) can be tools of propaganda but are not propaganda in themselves. A majority of Russian government aligned MDM content has "chaotic" intent, in which the content isn't necessarily intentionally made too be believed but formulated for target audiences too be receptive so emotions like fear, panic, worry, concern, etc can be exploited and amplified (doesn't require belief), though *can* be used as a tool *for* propaganda (similarly as MDM can be used in CI, deception, etc).

With these, it's also important to try and consider the target audience. This sort of content in a professional sense, whether it be MDM, propaganda, or a bit adjacently psychological operations, have target audience analysis pretty much done first. They don't just craft the content and release it (even when trying too "flood" the information environment), there's an identified audience and the content is built as best as can be, too be receptive amongst that audience. This is for example why a lot of it may look dumb too us, because we aren't in the audience that'd be more likely to be receptive of the content in any form rather than just brushing it off, though our reaction can still be capitalized and beneficial.
 
. A majority of Russian government aligned MDM content has "chaotic" intent, in which the content isn't necessarily intentionally made too be believed b
one goal of this strategy, especially when applied in foreign countries, is to erode trust in authoritative information sources.

It's good to explain the terms.
 

The basic principles of war propaganda (Principes élémentaires de propagande de guerre) is a monograph by Anne Morelli published in 2001. It has not been translated into English. The subtitle recommends its "usability in case of cold war, hot war and lukewarm war" (Utilisables en cas de guerre froide, chaude ou tiède).

The ten "commandments" of propaganda which Anne Morelli elaborates in this work are, above all, an analytical framework for pedagogical purposes and for media analysis. Morelli does not want to take sides or defend "dictators", but show the regularity of use of the ten principles in the media and in society:

"I will not put to test the purity of one or the other's intentions. I am not going to find out who is lying and who is telling the truth, who is believing what he says, and who does not. My only intention is to illustrate the principles of propaganda that are used and to describe their functioning." (P. 6)​

Morelli in this work adapts the typical forms of various contents of propaganda to news of her time. She takes up Arthur Ponsonby's Falsehood in War-Time and George Demartial's La mobilisation des consciences. La guerre de 1914 about propaganda in the First World War, systematizes them in the form of ten principles, and applies them to both world wars, the war in the Balkan, and the war in Afghanistan.

  1. We don't want war, we are only defending ourselves!
  2. Our adversary is solely responsible for this war!
  3. Our adversary's leader is inherently evil and resembles the devil
  4. We are defending a noble cause, not our particular interests!
  5. The enemy is purposefully committing atrocities; if we are making mistakes this happens without intention
  6. The enemy makes use of illegal weapons
  7. We suffer few losses, the enemy's losses are considerable
  8. Recognized intellectuals and artists support our cause
  9. Our cause is sacred
  10. Whoever casts doubt on our propaganda helps the enemy and is a traitor

I've seen all ten of these, most of them from both sides, in the past 2 weeks.
 


Whataboutism or whataboutery (as in "what about…?") is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy, which attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving the argument.

Soviet Union and Russia​

Main article: And you are lynching Negroes

In her book, Security Threats and Public Perception, author Elizaveta Gaufman called the whataboutism technique "A Soviet/Russian spin on liberal anti-Americanism", comparing it to the Soviet rejoinder, "And you are lynching negroes." Foreign Policy supported this assessment. Writing in 2016 for Bloomberg News, journalist Leonid Bershidsky called whataboutism a "Russian tradition." In their book The European Union and Russia (2016), Forsberg and Haukkala characterized whataboutism as an "old Soviet practice", and they observed that the strategy "has been gaining in prominence in the Russian attempts at deflecting Western criticism." Daphne Skillen discussed the tactic in her book, Freedom of Speech in Russia, identifying it as a "Soviet propagandist's technique" and "a common Soviet-era defence". In a piece for CNN, Jill Dougherty compared the technique to the pot calling the kettle black.

Writing for The Washington Post, former United States Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul wrote critically of Trump's use of the tactic and compared him to Putin. McFaul commented, "That's exactly the kind of argument that Russian propagandists have used for years to justify some of Putin's most brutal policies." Los Angeles Times contributor Matt Welch classed the tactic among "six categories of Trump apologetics". Mother Jones called the tactic "a traditional Russian propaganda strategy", and observed, "The whataboutism strategy has made a comeback and evolved in President Vladimir Putin's Russia."
 


Whataboutism or whataboutery (as in "what about…?") is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy, which attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving the argument.
"The whataboutism strategy has made a comeback and evolved in President Vladimir Putin's Russia."

Only click on one of these:
Yeah, but did you see MSNBC during the Trump years!?!?
Yeah, but have you seen Fox "News" recently?!!?!

It works, because of the biochemistry of the brain. Certain words and phrases cause reactions upon recognition. Which means it will always work. Not for everyone, but that doesn't matter, it only needs to work for a large enough proportion of the viewership.
 
@Agent K and @FatPhil (and anybody else), I'd really like to see some current examples, mostly because I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Whataboutism has a structure of "A accuses B of bad thing 1, B counters by accusing A of bad thing 2", with things 1 and 2 being only superficially related at best.

Putin using Kosovo as analogy to Donbass doesn't fit this pattern; the B counter here is "when A does it, this is a good thing".

I've probably simply not been exposed to enough Russian propaganda or Putin apologism to remember examples.
 
Whataboutism has a structure of "A accuses B of bad thing 1, B counters by accusing A of bad thing 2", with things 1 and 2 being only superficially related at best.

who says 1 and 2 are only superficially related at best? i think whataboutism is about highlighting same behaviors, not same events.
Using same events is only helpful because many people cannot understand the subtleties of "same behavior".. even when it it is looking them right in the face.

It works, because of the biochemistry of the brain.
it works because whataboutisms, from either side, are often true. Some personalities on MSNBC did spread lies about their political opponents. and some personalities on Fox News do spread lies about their political opponents.

Whataboutisms are acknowledgments that something is true. and how often do we see people on Metabunk acknowledge that an [alleged] opponent is right?
The only reason for people to get all bent-out-of-shape about whataboutisms, is because unlike the whataboutism utterer (who is acknowledging a wrong behavior), the whataboutism recipient is upset about having to acknowledge a similar bad behavior that he/she did not speak out about previously.
 
The only reason for people to get all bent-out-of-shape about whataboutisms, is because unlike the whataboutism utterer (who is acknowledging a wrong behavior), the whataboutism recipient is upset about having to acknowledge a similar bad behavior that he/she did not speak out about previously.
The Wikipedia example is, "and you are lynching Negroes".
During the Stalin era, praise for the quality of any aspect of US life prompted the rejoinder "Yes, but they lynch Blacks, don't they?

That was never not acknowledged, it's just completely offtopic, and therefore Whataboutism.
 
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