Social media controls the world


The more I think about the election in 2016, the more I think we, as Americans, were utterly manipulated by the algorithms of our social media news feeds. Those of us who were (at least vaguely) aware of what was happening we still feeding into the problem, the apparent virtuous cycle of positive Hillary (or whomever) news that was swirled at us by Facebook and Twitter (mostly). There’s been a lot of discussion around this, of course, but I think we’re going to start to see more research, reports and articles into how bamboozled we were. Here are a few that have popped up in the past few days:

And a counterpoint – how Snapchat mostly avoid the problem.

In a sense, the segment of Americans trapped in conservative Facebook echo chambers and Fox News / Breitbart - the live in a totally different reality. I’m left wonder whether it’s even possible to pop that bubble and return them to a world where they aren’t constantly fed propaganda.


I understand of course how and why there are differences, but doesn’t this also tie in to the end-state predicted by decades of Fox News and conservative propaganda media after the end of the Fairness Act? If you look at which radio/tv conservative personalities have survived and thrived, it’s the most virulent, the most obscene and the most over-the-top; not some weeding out processes where the most crazy were sorted to the bottom and the acceptable crazies rose to the top, it’s pretty much turtles all the way down right now. This shows me that this is some kind of evolution of insanity, that the fires being stoked that made these conservative blowhards successful is going to keep being enflamed until they engulf the political world or until something external snuffs them out.

That tech companies now wield disproportionate and negligent influence over the world’s political news is just fuel on the fires, rather than the spark that set it all ablaze, imo. And that these same social media sources can be so easily manipulated is just something they were never set up to address, since these social media sources were never created to be responsible but responsive.


Relevant to the conversation


Once fairness is removed from the equation, all that’s left is profit.


This dalliance with identity politics will reach a critical mass at some point in the future and collapse.

It is not sustainable, and we say things now that would have been openly ridiculed a decade ago.

The whole ‘fake news’ phenomenon would be dead and buried if Clinton had won.

The reality is you have two groups in bubble. The idiots on the alt-right, and the idiots on the left who I guess some refer to as SJW, but are a wider group than that.

They both consume propaganda in their own bubble.

I am convinced there is a silent majority out there who are heartily sick of it, and an enterprising politician will capitalise on it by returning to politics of reason.

In regard to your question - no of course you cannot puncture their bubble, anymore than they can puncture yours. The two groups are diametrically opposed.

What will happen is one day there will be a shift in the politics, because that is how we work - we go through fads. All the stuff ‘white men’ and ‘fake news’ will suddenly be unfashionable, and it will be forgotten and consigned to the dustbin of history.

It will be forgotten almost overnight, and all those engaged in it will pretend it never happened.

There will be some research on it, but that is because the research grants follow the politics of the day.

When the politics change, so will the research, and that will be that.


Hunter S. Thompson, 1966.
But resentment politics, just a fad.


The politics of reason are what the Democrats ran on in 2016, so I dispute your prediction.


The Silent Majority. Where have I heard this term before?

Oh yeah…


I wonder if Zuck sleeps at night?

Mr. Aye Swe admitted he had never met a Muslim before, adding, “I have to thank Facebook because it is giving me the true information in Myanmar.”

Social media messaging has driven much of the rage in Myanmar. Though widespread access to cellphones only started a few years ago, mobile penetration is now about 90 percent. For many people, Facebook is their only source of news, and they have little experience in sifting fake news from credible reporting.

One widely shared message on Facebook, from a spokesman for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s office, emphasized that biscuits from the World Food Program, a United Nations agency, had been found at a Rohingya militant training camp. The United Nations called the post “irresponsible.”


I am not convinced. I think that “silent majority” all are sucking on the gruel tubes of news fed to them by (primarily) Facebook. In a sense, I think that Facebook has stripped the silent majority of the ability to make its own decisions. EVERYTHING is the world through a Facebook algorithm. It’s like the prequel to The Matrix.


This NPR article seems relevant to this discussion.


It’s more and more frequent to see these types of articles

Also saw this:


People’s relationship to language is changing in a way that hasn’t happened since the invention of the printing press. We are entering a post-literate age, which will unfortunately have a lot in common with the last post/pre-literate age, 500-1400.


I still feel like it would be nice if people would have some fucking critical thinking skills and not blindly believe shit that pops up on their Facebook wall.

However, since last November, I’ve realized my estimation of the human species was grossly over-generous.


It’s why the tech giants are pushing so hard into video. They figure the next billion users they add are pretty much illiterate.



Heh, that’s the cornerstone of the gen ed program where I teach. Critical thinking, information literacy, integrative thinking, interdisciplinarity, and the like. I’m constantly fighting against the idea of a flat universe of information that the students arrive with. In general, they view all data as pretty much the same, as they can get it all instantly in the same fashion. With few exceptions, they don’t internalize a sense of a hierarchy of information, where some is good, some bad, and some needs to be carefully sifted before making a call. They live in a world where arguments and evidence are devalued, and everything is “just an opinion,” and one is as good as another. Pick one and go with it.

And why not? Their world is free information, all the time, any time. They are hooked up to a firehose of data and haven’t been taught how to filter it at the speed of their lives. They have the brains to do it, no doubt, but no incentive, because if they do what we teach them to do they suddenly realize that each and every day is a struggle against informational entropy, against bullshit and mendacious propaganda from many angles. It’s HARD to sort the wheat from the chaff, so it’s much easier to say it’s all wheat, and ignore the funny taste.


Someone here used the term post-literate society. And so here we are. Sometimes I’m glad I’m as old as I am. I’ll be the old man yelling at the cloud until I’m gone. You youngins will have to actually deal with it. Sorry.


Do you even have any teeth? That dentistry post was disturbing, old man RichVR.


All gone, bubba. Wanna see a picture from later that day?