File Name  ↓ File Size  ↓ Date  ↓ 

Recycling old strategies and devices. What remains, an art project addressing disinformation campaigns (re)using strategies to delay industry regulation

This paper has been published in Artnodes, NODE 24. After post-truth, on July 11 2019. You can read it here.


This paper describes a research-based art project that seeks to identify several strategies used to delay industry regulation and manipulate public opinion during the 1980s and compare them to the strategies used by online advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook which are facing regulation today. This paper will show how these strategies have been woven into the story of a game called What remains, a darkly humorous, authentic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game aiming to create an experience of fighting misinformation, showing the player ways to push back and regain agency by joining forces with others and actively questioning the nature of different news media.

Throughout the nineteen eighties, several strategies were tried and tested to manipulate public opinion in order to avoid regulation that was threatening industries such as oil and tobacco. Three strategies will be discussed with examples from the 1980s as well as from today’s Tech Industry, which is facing potential regulation after the 2016 US elections and the Brexit referendum made it clear that there was a massive lack of accountability on the part of online advertising platforms. The November 2017 congressional hearings of Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as the hearings of Marc Zuckerberg in the US and the EU in early 2018 are the main sources of information analyzed.

This paper describes an art project that shows some of the most successful pre-internet disinformation campaigns and highlights how the online advertisement industry is utilizing them to stave off regulations threatening their business model, even if their business model is threatening democracy.