Manipulating Truth

Through Technology -- and Its Effect on a Global Society

Manipulating Truth to Rewrite History

Technology has allowed individuals and institutions to rewrite history in order to manipulate the truth for purposes of control. Despite terms such as "tech," "iPhone," and "IT" seeming like everyday vocabulary, such ideas and inventions are extremely new when placed in a historical frame of reference. Let's not forget that the Big Bang occurred 14 billion years ago and that the first human-like appearance was 6 million years BCE. Now, if we think about it, the invention of the internet in 1969 is indeed novel.

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Despite our association of “technology” with terms such as computer, hardware, and programming, this word has been used in other ways to save the same purposes of manipulating people and getting control over them. And what figure better than Adolf Hitler to talk about abuse of power?

Nazi Party: Control of Technology, propaganda, media and arts to write a historical narrative that suited its purpose and remain in power

Hitler is a very interesting case to look at when considering manipulation of truth due to the conditions in which he rose to power. In a curiously fascinating and intriguing manner, this man did what hundreds of other “great men” of history were unable to: he took advantage of the most disadvantageous of situations a rising leader could hope for.

However, with careful maneuvering of technology, propaganda, the media and the arts, Hitler was able to not only convince himself but the entire German population that not only was he the proper leader for that particular historical scope of time, but that it was his nation’s obligation to change the wrongdoings of World War I. By taking advantage of the dissatisfied, depressed, and dysfunctional German population that barely had what to eat due to the hyperinflation, in 1933 Hitler started to consciously rewrite his country’s recent history in one of history’s most daring strategies. Not only did Hitler make the Treaty of Versailles’ “War Guilt Clause” that blamed Germany guilty for the war seem implausible, he also tricked people into actually conceiving the idea of getting revenge and retrieving the land that had been taken from them as punishment. He presented himself as a solution and despised his fellow continental Europeans’ attempts at international diplomacy. No wonder it ended up in the Final Solution… But before killing 6 million Jews, Hitler made people believe that change could take place and that it relied on his extreme party. Now, how did he do that? Magic?

No. Hitler, obsessed with the idea of a racially unified Germany based on the pillars of nationalism, understood the importance of technology for spreading effective propaganda. At the time, technology did not have the same robotic, wireless connotation that it implies today – practically, it was for sure much less developed; however, the field of manipulation had more plasticity in the sense that propaganda was intricate to arts and vice-versa, making people almost purposefully unaware of the brainwash they were undergoing. The Fuhrer took the art of persuasion to another level when he hired Dr. Joseph Goebbels as Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment. No, unfortunately that last part was not a typo, but even something as absurd as this reflects how Hitler rewrote history in its utmost details – from people’s titles to what neighborhood in the city they lived in. Goebbels had the task to 1) certify that nobody would be listening to or seeing anti-Nazi demonstrations and 2) extent the Nazi view of the world and its sphere of influence as much as possible.

To accomplish this task, the Nazi administration relied on a powerful tool in which all truth was manipulated and people were controlled even when they thought to be having leisure time: films. Apart from burning heretic books, filmmaking was the Nazis primary tool in controlling the truth and consequently, the people. To reinforce the Nazi world view, themes displayed were recurrent: the German war hero, the corrupt Jew with his rat-like features that should be exterminated in the same manner as one, the right path a dutiful Aryan should follow in demonstrating his love for the Fuhrer. Between 1933 and 1945, some of the world’s leading propaganda films were produced.

Nazi German Propaganda - Adolf Hitler - Rare Confiscated Film - WW2 History
This is an excerpt from one of the rarest confiscated film propagandas made in Nazi Germany. Despite not having subtitles, we can grasp the spirit of Hitler's ingenious manipulation of the truth -- while on camera, he acts in a way as to portray an aura of sanctity: helping the forgotten soldiers who had heroically fought for their country in WWI and listening to all of their concerns (as if he cared; really, he was interested in conquering all of Europe and ridding the face of the earth from Jews), while at the same time maintaining his role as head of state by diplomatically talking to important people and acting like a responsible adult. Oh, kids, do not follow such example!...

other noteworthy movies include:

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"Hitlerjunge Quex"

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"the eternal jew"

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and "triumph of the will" ...really?

Nazi propaganda through radio

Despite its perverse and devious use, filmmaking was not the Nazi's only tool for telling a different historical narrative and thus staying in power. Equally important was the radio, whose accessibility after Hitler ordered the prices to be cheaper guaranteed total control over the people: everyone would have a radio at home and loud speakers in every public realm made sure all pure and dutiful German citizens were listening to the Fuhrer 24 hours a day.



Currently, a very common but still consistently popular and sophisticated software for image alteration and manipulation is Adobe Photoshop. This program can be bought and installed in many types of hardwares, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptops, and desktop computers. It is important to note that the manipulation of truth through photographs would be impossible if not for both a hardware and software, for one is dependent on the other and thus we are presented with a symbiotic relationship whose goal is to successfully alter some visual information in favor of another truth.

"Spot the difference - Zoe Kleinman gets photoshopped"

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How to See Common Alterations

  • Cloning: Part of image subtly duplicated, eg to make smoke cloud look bigger - a computer can analyse pixel colours in different areas and compare them for similarity
  • Re-touching: To sharpen blurred or underlit detail - proportions of basic colours in sequences of pixels are often not balanced after a re-touch.
  • Lighting: By analysing all shadows in an image, scientists can tell whether a shot had a single light source.

Source: BBC News, by Zoe Kleinman


Manipulated truth is communicated to society in order to get the false information into people's minds and this is done constantly through the media, but also softwares and hardwares. Considering that the average American spends 34 hours watching TV each week, it is conceivable that the government's or manipulative individual's truth be easily synthesized into our brains without us even noticing most of the time. That information does not have to be rationalized, but it will slowly start to make up our frame of reference for what we base our judgement on and eventually will start affecting our sense of morality and perception.
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Hardwares that communicate directly and constantly with the 21st Century global society include CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory), DVD (digital versatile/video disk) readers and burners. Such input and output devices may store any type of content in them and, considering recent news of how the "liberal democratic" and many times idealized Obama administration has been surveilling the internet disconsidering national boundaries, we might as well watch out what CDs we input into our other hardwares - computers and laptops - because, even if we have the software to prevent viruses from damaging the contents of the computer, one's operating system might have illegally installed software without the person being aware of, and thus result in imminent damage to the typical computer system.