Report on media manipulation "from radicalized groups that emerged from internet subcultures"


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/05/15/stolen-meme-war-valor.html


#2

This is an important study, but I fear it’s going to be nearly ignored by the people who most need to comprehend it :neutral_face:


#3

The terrorists have won.


#4

The manipulation of the media from outside influences isn’t exactly surprising. Multiple people have tried successfully over the years to prank news outlets with fake news to point out the fact that news outlets don’t do their due diligence in fact checking stories like they should be for the sake of speed.

The internet has decentralized how old media operates, which is a good thing and bad thing. Anyone with something to say can have more of a voice, but on the flip side anyone with something to say has a voice. Including trolls and idiots, and you’d think that traditional media would have a stronger incentive to make sure that what they are reporting is accurate but it seems they are doing just the opposite. Which fuels people’s opinions of not trusting the news.


#5

Faking insincerity is usually their first step till they can pull the mask off.


#6

It’s interesting how centrally coordinated these ‘rugged individualists’ are at calling other people “sheeple”


#7

Yeah, and how adept they are at lurking and navigating various platforms. Almost as if all they have in life is to be thoughtlessly and reactively plugged into the continuum like, I don’t know… let’s say sheep.

Much like people who accusatorily use the term “hipster”, it seems the folks most likely to deploy the term are the most probable candidates for its application.


#8

I’m really surprised no reporters have traced the alt-right back to it’s original source. The Gamefaqs.comLife, The Universe, and Everything” board.

CJayC quarantined them, and people moved on… a large chunk (basically, anyone with access to a credit card) went to SomethingAwful.

A group of weeaboos who were literally too fucked up for the SomethingAwful anime board then formed their own community, called 4chan, and later moved onto 8chan after 4chan banned invasions.

I don’t have a solution to offer, but what I see is a group of people who, like myself, escaped into video games because their lives had some sort of bad things going on. They kept drifting from community to community, their numbers winnowed as people got jobs and girlfriends and went off to college or simply got some therapy.

And the end result? They settled in places where there were no normal voices, fed off each other, and… well we’re seeing the result.

I’m not condoning their views at all. And I don’t have a good solution to the very real problem of abusive behavior. (I’m not going to distinguish between offline and online - life is life)

But I look back and wonder sometimes - if I hadn’t had some of the opportunities I had - access to mental health care, parents who helped with college… would I be sitting here on Boing Boing penning a missive about an obscure internet forum? Or would I be over on /pol/ whinging about cucks?

It’s a scary feeling, knowing you took a turn at some point, and if you hadn’t life could have gone differently.

Or maybe it wouldn’t have, and that’s the takeaway - you have to decide to be a better person, and once you do (and put in the work), you will be…


#9

I wonder how many of them are being paid to do this by deep-pockets with antisocial agendas.


#10

Because they are sheep-
wait a sec…


#11

Some weak-ass trolling up in this thread. “No, THEY’RE TEH sheeple!” is a fairly lame response.

While it’s true that many pranksters and activists have trolled the media, in order to point out the failings of their journalistic rigour or whatevz, the difference here is (like the mainstream media have naturally harboured and supported for years), here we see the same kind of manipulation but with an agenda beyond making sub-editors look bad. It’s bad enough when its coming from billionaires, but at least they have some kind of vested interest in the smooth running of a society that they are parasitizing. The alt-right shitfarmers, on the other hand, have nothing to lose - or couldn’t recognise it, if they tried.


#12

Really interesting comment.

I spent several sad and depressing years deeply invested in an MMORPG that had its own laws, political system, etc, and what’s weird for me is that I’ve seen everything that’s currently happening in US politics play out in that game—the way everything became dominated by two factions that bitterly hated each other, how quickly truth went out the window, how eventually the whole point of playing was to damage and undermine the other side. It was long periods of seething resentment punctuated by brief moments of vengeful glee.

Ultimately I realized that the only way to win was not to play, but unfortunately it’s hard to apply that lesson to the real world.


#13

Amazing post. Thanks for sharing. We’re glad you’re here, too.


#14

Perhaps, but I find that highly unlikely. The same narrative has been promulgated by the pro-fascist, er, I mean conservative media to deflate the legitimacy of dissenting citizens at GOP town halls. There are more than enough genuinely upset people to organize.


#15

That means a lot.

I’ve actually been reading BoingBoing since about 2004, but only recently worked up the courage to start being a regular commenter.

(Not that BB isn’t welcoming, that was just my personal baggage after some unpleasant incidents… you folks are gems :slight_smile: )


#16

You’re probably right. I was just thinking of the asymmetry of the amount of money available.


#17

I can relate – that kind of baggage can be heavy, no wheels on the bottom, and no longer checked free.


#18

That’s really interesting.

One thing I would love to do is work with someone who has a background in clinical psychology, and extrapolate the effects of various psychological conditions on the political system. (Edit: Especially the prevalence of narcissism and sociopathy… 1% of millions of people is a large #)

In theory, I’m a fan of democratic socialism (strong social safety net coupled with a market economy).

In practice, it’s easy to chip away at the safety net without lowering taxes (usually by shifting money to the military), breeding resentment… which leads to people clamoring for lower taxes, slashed services, and a rise in tribalism.

Lack of education seems to be a huge factor too. (I seriously think the biggest barrier to democratic socialism is people not understanding marginal tax rates. When someone hears 50% tax, they assume 50% of all their money will be taken)

Anyways, ramble over!


#19

There’s a whole field of psychohistory based on the idea that societies suffer neuroses.

Clearly America is suffering from narcissism, of which Donald Trump is merely the symptom. We all grew up on a steady diet of American exceptionalism, which failed to jibe with the actual future we were handed. If we’re God’s gift, and yet our fortunes are declining, then the only explanation is that somebody (brown) is cheating us out of what is naturally ours.

I agree about the marginal tax rate. It’s so funny to hear to people say “we’re trying to avoid making more money, because that will put us in a higher tax bracket.”

In my experience, though, what libertarian types really don’t get is that the market can restrict your individual freedom by limiting your range of feasible options as much as the government can by passing a law. You always hear “Nobody is forcing you. If you don’t like it you can work/shop somewhere else.” But, of course, “somewhere else” always turns out to be just as bad. You can get punched in the face on United, or you can fly Delta and have them threaten to put your kids in foster care.

But also, returning to psychology, individualism affords poor people a way to feel like working class heroes rather than economic victims or cogs in a machine. They’re in control of their own destiny, nobody is giving them anything, and if they’re not being rewarded it’s because lazy welfare queens are skewing the playing field. It’s hard to say to those people “You’re actually not in control; your fortunes are largely at the mercy of a godlike abstraction called ‘capitalism’.”

The individualist worldview is a lot less bleak than the socialist one, unless you actually get to benefit from the sense of community and shared destiny that socialism affords—and the culture war ensures that that never happens.


#20

And France suffers from deep depression.