Authoritarians used to be scared of social media, now they rule it


Originally published at:


authorities don’t cool blar blar blar


Strong moderation enhanced by technology can mitigate the effects of trolls spouting disinformation and hatered in social media forums but ultimately the strongest countermeasure is the longer-term project of reality-based public education that emphasises critical thinking (including but far from limited to courses in media literacy).

Unfortunately, while there are many dedicated teachers out there, they’re continually hobbled in their efforts by authoritarian administrators and politicians who have little incentive to support them in those efforts. Shamefully, this kind of thinking is not limited to the “usual suspect” politicians and parties listed in the article but also to the Tories in the UK and the GOP in the U.S.


The campaigns …are closely observing one another and learning from each other.

So, not just corporations, but nation-states are a form of AI, with a goal of self-preservation. Who would have guessed?


Authoritarians’ Achilles’ heel always has and always will be a citizenry practiced in critical thinking. It is why the north star of authoritarian power from the Church to the CIA has always been information asymmetry. They claim to be the only ones who can be trusted with the power of knowledge while they actively spread disinformation. When the security apparatus of the state speaks of total information awareness, they mean their own awareness, not the people they nominally serve.


Also, out there in the “free” market, for car salesmen and realtors and stockbrokers.


For a short time it looked like a more distributed and democratized media might be an effective countermeasure against authoritarianism.

Unfortunately authoritarians have long since learned that you don’t have to worry about keeping the truth from coming out if you have the power to bury it in disinformation.


Which is ironic since Adam Smith was arguing against mercantilism, not for the right to con people. But Randians value freedom about as much as the Xtian Right values the teachings of Christ, which is to say somewhere between ass-backwards and not at all.


They’re not going to like the elastic recoil from their control attempts.



Moderation will never work, because moderators will always be owned by the State or a Corpor@tion. These entities will always have an agenda.

I would never tell someone not to use social media. However, if you use it, my only suggestion would be, to be aware what it is. Use protection and wash-up afterwards.


Though I was going to say that human moderating could be a new source of employment, as other jobs disappear, except at that level it will become regulated, which will mean state control. (Think E.Germany and Stasi, and the huge number of informants.)

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It’s deeper than that, even: it’s a metaphysical war on the idea of truth itself.


It’s a tricky problem, but how about subscription moderation on a distributed/federated newsgroup?

For example, a moderated newsgroup could have post messages, along with signed moderation control messages, to be applied if you trust/like the moderation, alternately you could turn it off or even switch to different moderators.


The ultimate goal of any bureaucracy is survival.


Which is why I always laugh a little bit when some right winger bitches about Postmodernism.


State sponsered anti-troll armies to the rescue:

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Joan Vinge had a trilogy where this was a major component.


so in the US it will take some brave educators to design and implement another form of public education to mee these new demands? or is PE already a thing of the past?

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I see this as a pretty solid reason to break up the social media giants. Local replacements would be pretty neat, maybe?

Not like it would happen in this day and age, but I can dream, can’t I?


They have to be funded and supported. Sadly, the political will wouldn’t be there even if the Secretary of Education wasn’t appointed by a “president” in thrall to (and aided in his election campaign by) the world’s most successful practitioner of social-media-driven disinformatzya. The GOP “loves the poorly educated”, too, and apologists for authoritarian thugs like Putin aren’t the only kind of “useful idiot” out there.