The Big Data wave makes us take a new step in the information age in which we live. Data & information have taken a central place in all our activities; even war is concerned (information warfare, electronic warfare, for example). In the information age, the power of ideas plays a more and more prominent role, but as the principle of skepticism is largely widespread, our era is also the era of suspicion and mistrust. Normally there are always data that are transformed into information, which requires particular expertise, knowledge, ethics, and exposes us to many twists: secret (information enclosed) rumor (zero degree of information), propaganda, disinformation or deception.
For example, advertising is a form of propaganda that is accepted in our society, it is used to develop a "pleading" for a product or a brand. It is promoting a point of view in order to convince, but also to block the brain function; it is typically the role of suggestive advertising to prevent the brain works analytically and critically. Advertising, as all actions propaganda has individual or crowd conditioning goals. Propaganda tries to seduce, to rally, to convert the undecided camp, to strengthen supporter’s convictions, to shake the skeptics, but in some cases (excluding advertising) to demoralize, terrorize opponents. It should be noted here that terrorism is an act of propaganda which bases its power on the violence of the message.
Disinformation deliberately tries to distort the understanding of a situation. Disinformation provides false information to guide in the wrong direction. Often it presents in a biased way a fact, provides biased information, and covers their true information in an avalanche of comments and details. Disinformation champions are the politicians. The politically correct expressions are a form of disinformation, and the double talk another form. The big question here is whether disinformation could be morally honest, as it serves respectable objectives?
In handling information, the gold medal goes to deception actions. There are different forms of deception, gentle (hoaxes, April fool …) and hard (example: commercial scams). The militaries are experts of this type of manipulation, already highly recommended five centuries before Christ by Sun Tzu who devotes a chapter of his famous book to deception. The references for this type of military action are many: Trojan horse, Horace and Curiace, EMS Dispatch, and during World War II, Pearl Harbor, Barbarosa, Mincemeat and Overlord. Deception actions systematically use stratagem, combination of false clues, luring sequence of actions, the use of defectors, spies and traitors in order to drive the enemy who distrusts to the wrong decision and to fatal behavior.
The world of Big Data is presented on a sympathetic angle, as for example the possibility to improve market understanding, but no doubt it will be a good source for powering many acts of propaganda, disinformation and deception.
To go further on the topic you can download the following presentation: http://www.decideo.fr/bruley/docs/surprise%2C_secrecy%2C_and_decept...