Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The danger in suppressing information

Tom Tomorrow has a letter from a Spanish reader who provides a useful "man on the street" perspective to what happened in Spain. I was struck most of all by the comments about the flurry of SMS text messaging that was going on prior to the election. The state controlled media looked to be suppressing information that suggested Islamic connections to 11-M. Yet the information was getting out anyway via a flash network of cell phones.

Naturally, this kind of information distribution is subject to all the normal problems with gossip channels. The idea that the government might have been suppressing information just fed into the negative feelings. Which means it might have been better for the Aznar government if they had been open and honest in acknowledging the possibility of an Islamic connection. In other words, the fact that they might have been clamping down on negative information just made that negative information more likely to be distributed and absorbed.

I don't expect authoritarians to appreciate the irony in this.


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