Detailed analysis of the hyper-partisan Facebook "news" business

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It’s interesting that this detailed journalistic analysis of the potential for generating money and influence from the memetic and viral nature of the social internet was performed by Buzzfeed, an organization that started out as a listicle-driven viral content aggregator. Perhaps the meta-fact that buzzfeed matured into an actual journalistic enterprise itself takes the edge off this bad news. Who knows, maybe this Macedonian teenager will become the next [insert relevant name here, I’m out of gas]


This stuff is really interesting, and very frightening. When I use the search feature on Instagram, it’s now half full of these little pictures with some political factoid meant to get people worked up, both right and left. They’re all posted by accounts that post nothing else, and often with the word “Trump” or “Conservative” in their usernames. In other words, they were created for the purpose. Here’s a random right wing one from my feed right now:

And a random left wing one:

Interestingly almost all the comments on all the right wing posts are from people who have nothing but picture factoid posts too, or they’re private so I can’t see what else they post.

I’ve been wondering what these are. Are they bots? Posted by someone somehow making revenue? Just doing it for the political influence? Does anyone know?

And of course it’s not just Instagram. My Quora feed is also full of them, in that case it’s inane questions like “When will liberals realize that they’re ruining America?” And if I used Facebook I’m sure it would be the same kind of thing.

If anyone has any info on this stuff, I’m super curious.

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I think Jim Wright’s twitter timeline on bots/information warfare is absolutely essential reading these days.

I’d assume the same applies to any other form of social media, Instagram included.


Wow, very interesting stuff, thanks for that. Love this observation of his:

“Remember, the objective is to disrupt public conversation and the ability of ideas to coalescence into coherent public positions”

And I really think it’s working. And this sort of misinformation or propaganda or whatever you want to call it is especially powerful in the age of social media since they re-enforce the echo chamber effect. For example if I’m a Trump lover who has completely renounced the “mainstream media”, these stories and pictoids might where I get all my information, since Instagram or whatever has noticed that my friends see and like these too. It’s a weird and scary phenomenon that’s just starting to take shape, and it makes it so there’s absolutely no common ground between right and left, even with basic facts.

And it makes me see how absolutely brilliant it was of the right wing to demonize the media, they’ve made it so there’s absolutely no check or information.

Shouldn’t the graph indicate which is right and which is left? Or am I missing something?

They should’ve, but it looks like it wasn’t labeled because it was marketed to the American political spectrum, (red=right)

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