Author Topic: Big Brother is Millions of Bots  (Read 535 times)

Recusant

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Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« on: February 27, 2017, 04:17:58 PM »
If the article is to be believed (and I don't have any good reason to doubt that it is) then we are already living in a world in which opinions are being manipulated on a mass scale by computer information algorithms that control twitter bots and other electronic propaganda tools.

The people who pull the strings behind the scenes have a particular political agenda. It's an agenda that I don't agree with, but even if I agreed with it, I'd find this dismaying.

It's a long article, but it's well worth the time to read it, in my opinion. I spend practically no time on Facebook, and what I've learned in the article will help keep me away.

"Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media" | The Guardian

Quote
Just over a week ago, Donald Trump gathered members of the world’s press before him and told them they were liars. “The press, honestly, is out of control,” he said. “The public doesn’t believe you any more.” CNN was described as “very fake news… story after story is bad”. The BBC was “another beauty”.

That night I did two things. First, I typed “Trump” in the search box of Twitter. My feed was reporting that he was crazy, a lunatic, a raving madman. But that wasn’t how it was playing out elsewhere. The results produced a stream of “Go Donald!!!!”, and “You show ’em!!!” There were star-spangled banner emojis and thumbs-up emojis and clips of Trump laying into the “FAKE news MSM liars!”

Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media – we, us, I – dying?

I click Google’s first suggested link. It leads to a website called CNSnews.com and an article: “The Mainstream media are dead.” They’re dead, I learn, because they – we, I – “cannot be trusted”. How had it, an obscure site I’d never heard of, dominated Google’s search algorithm on the topic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center, which a click later I learn is “America’s media watchdog”, an organisation that claims an “unwavering commitment to neutralising leftwing bias in the news, media and popular culture”.

Another couple of clicks and I discover that it receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. If you follow US politics you may recognise the name. Robert Mercer is the money behind Donald Trump. But then, I will come to learn, Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Mercer started backing Ted Cruz, but when he fell out of the presidential race he threw his money – $13.5m of it – behind the Trump campaign.

[Continues . . .]
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Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2017, 05:01:03 PM »
If one stayed away from social media completely, once would be less susceptible to these influences (said I, as I wrote on an internet forum).

Dave

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2017, 05:05:33 PM »
I am begining to think that "social media" is one of the most dangerous things about the Internet. At all levels from personal to at least national. It does have useful functions, such as in disaster relief, but...

Definitely a double edged sword.
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Recusant

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2017, 05:08:52 PM »
If one stayed away from social media completely, once would be less susceptible to these influences (said I, as I wrote on an internet forum).

We do a pretty good job of swatting the bots away. For now. I don't think forums like this are on "their" radar anyway.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Dave

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2017, 06:12:13 PM »
If one stayed away from social media completely, once would be less susceptible to these influences (said I, as I wrote on an internet forum).

We do a pretty good job of swatting the bots away. For now. I don't think forums like this are on "their" radar anyway.

We're just not big data are we?

 :sad sigh:
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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2017, 06:23:42 PM »
The algorithms are designed to provide the content that people want to see, not necessarily what people should be seeing.

It bothers me a lot, not in politics, but everywhere. I have to do dig deep to find useful things where as not too long ago it wasn't that difficult to find the useful things. Add to that the resulting effect of most algorithms put quantity over quality and immediacy over accuracy. It's making it more and more difficult to get to the useful articles and videos.

I see it as a problem, I see the bad effect it has on me and others... but I can't think of a solution myself.

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2017, 07:45:51 PM »

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2017, 11:27:26 PM »
That article is troubling. On the one hand it sounds like some wild conspiracy theory. On the other hand, we do have rampant social media whose gazillions of members are vulnerable to "psyops" methods........ Mr. Mercer may be the devil incarnate.

We HAFers may believe that we are less likely to be manipulated than ordinary slobs.  We are neither ordinary nor slobs....I can not help but wonder whether bots could influence us in an emotional way such that we change our line of reasoning.

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2017, 05:14:40 AM »
I was watching a show where the main antagonist is an information Brooker and puts all the people in uncomfortable positions until they almost die at the end.
But, uh...well there it is.
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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2017, 08:25:55 AM »
There was something about this on the radio. In the programme this guy gathered all kinds of minor personal stuff on the presenter and his family. Nothing nasty or really important but lots of it.

Got the impression they edited some stuff out.
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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2017, 01:13:50 PM »
Thanks for posting this Recusant, I find this subject fascinating. I hold the opinion that the distorted or filtered view we each have in our "Online World" had a distinct impact on the last election, especially with regards to social media (Facebook most importantly)

Last September I was visiting with my sister, and her brother-inlaw had been over her house helping her with some repairs in her house and he had his laptop computer at her home. They were using it to try and find something related to the repair work they were doing, and he left to get pickup some parts, and had told her he was fine with her using his computer while he was gone.

His Facebook page was up, and we were amazed at how differently his feed appeared compared to hers. He is very conservative, my sister the exact opposite, and it was somewhat startling to see how each of their feeds handled the current events going on at the time, mostly of course dealing with the election. (We showed him the comparison later when he returned, and were very open that we had been looking at his Facebook, just in case anyone thinks we were snooping)

Same story, totaling different viewpoints, but most disheartening, nothing approaching an opposing or alternative opinion on either side.

The following video covers this subject quite well and is worth the watch as it is not very long. Interesting as it covers what is called:

Incestuous Amplification Effect

Incestuous Amplification: A condition in warfare where one only listens to those who are already in lock-step agreement, reinforcing set beliefs and creating a situation ripe for miscalculation."

-Jane's Defense Weekly


Here's a link to the video.

VIDEO: MediaOcracy (We The Voters)
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Dave

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2017, 02:00:56 PM »
Wondering where "Incestuous amplification" differs from the old "groupthink". But I can see the effect, something like a self-selective "mobthink" with positive feedback.

Groupthink:
Quote
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.
Wiki]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink]Wiki

Usually applied to groups of specific function, a bunch of generals or politicians. I think "mobthink" more applicable in anti-social media.

Now, would it not be nice to be able to safely (in terms of the public) "feed" some of these bots with duff stuff!? It's also another thing sci-fi thought up many, many years ago.

Pricing, especially online, may depending on you shopping and spending profiles in future - the "willingness to pay" factor in the trade jargon.
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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2017, 02:45:43 PM »
I do think it's happening, but I doubt the conspiracy theory angle to it.

It's just the rich and powerful controlling the masses. Same game, new tools.

They want to create an easily led consumer society. Sheep. Cattle. Domesticated turkeys.

The problem with it is that it also creates a lot of anger. The great unwashed masses awaiting to wage a revolution. On both sides.

Feels like history keeps repeating.

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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2017, 03:03:19 PM »
I do think it's happening, but I doubt the conspiracy theory angle to it.

It's just the rich and powerful controlling the masses. Same game, new tools.

They want to create an easily led consumer society. Sheep. Cattle. Domesticated turkeys.

The problem with it is that it also creates a lot of anger. The great unwashed masses awaiting to wage a revolution. On both sides.

Feels like history keeps repeating.

Not always sure about the rich and powerful, amazing what a spotty teenager can do from his bedroom on the Internet. . .
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Re: Big Brother is Millions of Bots
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2017, 03:19:19 PM »
Ha ha!  Lil' Spotty is just an employee / drone / henchman. The paycheck comes from higher up.
(he's also the fall guy if he gets caught, right?)