Business marketing is now being discussed in terms of using the internet, not to present products in their best light, but to actually manipulate perceptions of the millions who use social networking sites, view advertising and take in information. This is a frightening prospect, given that corporations are not the best agencies for instigating wide scale social control.
The ability to manipulate perceptions of reality on a mass scale is the most powerful and dangerous form of social control.
But the government has some very beneficial uses of the internet for social control through changing perceptions of reality. When the EPA wants the population to adopt more energy or waste efficient measures, their website and even social networking campaigns are now able to get the facts, education and the required actions out to millions.
When we think of disaster, we think of going on line to get answers from the government, emergency response and charitable agencies that need to control the actions of the affected population as well as the activities of relatives, friends, employers, acquaintances, volunteers and charitable contributors. Even when criminal opportunists prey on those who are involved with disasters, the internet and social networking resources are able to get warnings out to millions and to take in information from victims in very little time. Changing perceptions of reality lead to changing perceptions of the appropriate actions that need to be taken in the real world.
One of the more chilling threats to freedom of perception is the collaboration between the mainstream news media, shadowy political entities and the corporations that can bias, limit or control the news, using either their advertising dollars or threats of political or legal action to skew the very information that people think is official, unaltered and unbiased.
The internet is an obvious tool for charismatic individuals who can build up enormous power and social control over others. The internet is one of the cheapest ways for anyone who has an appealing idea as well as marketing and media savvy to attract audiences in the hundreds of millions, a good number of whom will surely have some point of agreement that will lead to their support, votes, changing belief structures and even real world action. History shows us that Mussolini, more than anything, used media savvy and corporatist ideology to convince millions to support his rise to power and to maintain that power. The current US President came from nowhere to get past the most entrenched political movers and shakers through brilliant use of the internet.
In the same way, charismatic individuals as well as the mainstream media are using race, false statements, doctored videos and photos and playing on religions and extremism to bring down the same current US President. Even when something positive is accomplished, many media outlets will immediately follow up with a negative statement, usually based on speculation, loaded questions and false statements that are never supported by fact.
No media outlet has completely summarized the President's impressive list of accomplishments during his term, which is a form of withholding fact in order to change perceptions of realtiy. The recent Pew Poll results scandal over challenging the president's chosen religion with absolutely false statements is an example of the mainstream media, along with other internet entities achieving the power to actually form millions of people's perceptions of reality, causing them to believe that the President is a Muslim.
These events, ploys and games have gone on throughout history, but the internet is proving to be the most powerful and effective way to give social control powers to unofficial, unsanctioned, secretive, and frightening social entities that may have self or harmful interests, not the best interests of society in mind.
Finally, the phenomena of even very small entities using the internet for social control can be likened to the "butterfly effect" concept of chaos theory, where a very small action of one thing can cause vast changes and consequences in other things, then recurse to create unstoppable and permanent changes in the behavior of entire social systems.