The State Department is launching a $40 million initiative to crack down on foreign propaganda and disinformation amid widespread concerns about future Russian efforts to interfere in elections.
Source: State Dept. launches $40M offensive against foreign propaganda | TheHill
7 years ago, the U.S. government launched its own social media computational propaganda program.
Social media is now an official battlefield as nation states and a cast of thousands of others go to war against each other.
I’m so old I remember when we worried about nuclear missiles raining down upon on us and played security-theater drills of hiding under our desks at school. Today we cower from an onslaught of tweets and Facebook posts… my, how times have changed.
Senior executives have resigned or been fired and dozens of staff and reporters have quit.
Source: Newsweek in Turmoil: Probe Into Finances and Ties to Bible College Widens – WSJ
Newsweek has a history of publishing fake news; in fact, reporters imply they adopted the click-bait model of fake news reporters.
There is a relationship between fake news and social media propaganda. One creates fake content for sharing and liking, and the other enables fake stories to propagate like a virus.
Once considered darlings, bigtech is now under fire for their role in destroying privacy, their platforms’ use for spreading propaganda, their own role as powerful monopolies, gaming the tax system, and more. “More” includes their impact on their own local communities were 60 year old 3 bedroom 2 bath homes now have a median price of $1 million.
Source: Silicon Valley faces make or break moment amid big tech backlash
The U.S. media has buried its head in deeply to the Russian-propaganda meme, as if this was new and nefarious. Read this from MARCH 2011:
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.
Source: Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media | Technology | The Guardian
It’s not the message, its the medium.
Every one is flooding social media with propaganda to control your thoughts.
The contemporary focus on Russia connected propaganda from the Internet Research Agency is itself a massive propaganda operation by U.S.-based actors.
One of my hobbies is 3D or “stereo” photography. I saw this in my Twitter feed:
And what is this sensitive media?
This sort of weird Twitter censorship happens every day.
And it proves my point that adding more software to solve the fundamental, root cause problem with social media as a propaganda platform, does not work and will not work.
Facebook was the major mover in Social traffic in 2017. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a positive move. Their share of visits dropped a massive 12.7% between the second half of 2016 and the second half of 2017.
Source: Report: Search Referral Traffic Overtook Social in 2017 as Facebook traffic share falls
It’s not the message, its the medium – duh!
The central problem of disinformation corrupting American political culture is not Russian spies or a particular social media platform. The central problem is that the entire industry is built to leverage sophisticated technology to aggregate user attention and sell advertising. There is an alignment of interests between advertisers and the platforms. And disinformation operators are typically indistinguishable from any other advertiser. Any viable policy solutions must start here.
Source: Digital Deceit: The Technologies Behind Precision Propaganda on the Internet
This sounds familiar, where have I heard this? 🙂
Experts, however, say what they call “computational propaganda” doesn’t just piggyback on social platforms; it is baked into the DNA and the business model of companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. And it’s going to take more than an algorithm tweak to get rid of it.
Source: Fake news is part of a bigger problem: automated propaganda – Columbia Journalism Review
It’s because Internet Research Agency trolls used social media exactly as social media is designed to be used, and is used, by everyone else. It’s not the message, its the medium.
Starting to see a trend here:
Oppressive governments around the world have realized that social media have become powerful alternative voices to official propaganda, so governments have not stopped looking for ways to combat political and social dissent on those media. Governments persecute dissenting voices either by openly denying access to the Internet and social media or by harassing critics, especially during elections or turbulent events.
Source: Game of Trolls: The Sinister Face of Facebook
Related: Billionaire upset that social media reducing his influence on the world
There’s no doubt in my mind that the ones that have been harmed most by it are news organizations, political parties and government.
It was pretty clear to me five years ago they had already lost their power. Right now, they’re grappling with the reality of that and trying to understand what that means. The problem is new changes will be upon us, and I’m worried that by the time they come to terms with it, they’ll miss the current growing crisis.
Source: Propaganda, lies and social media: Harvard’s Nicco Mele on how the tech we love hurts us