Sophisticated political manipulation?

Being tech un-savvy, I’ll leave the tech talk to this article, but with the impact social media has on everything from cute baby videos going viral to the Islamic State spreading its jihad, the power of its ability to influence people can not be underestimated.  Opinions form quickly and many political activist groups successfully use this tool for successful public relations operations. Some use it to spread disinformation, misinformation and as a battleground to launch scorched-earth political nuclear attacks, effectively annihilating their political opponents.  With this in mind, here’s a thought-provoking piece from Wired:

Google’s Search Algorithm Could Steal the Presidency

8 Comments

Filed under Culture Wars, General Interest, Politics, The Media

8 responses to “Sophisticated political manipulation?

  1. JK

    I’d humbly add it isn’t only in the domestic political sphere either, nevermind the situation we’ve allowed ourselves to get into just here in the US.

    Where for example, pops immediately to mind when the term Facebook Revolution enters the discourse?

  2. “All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” – Edgar Allan Poe

    You brought up an excellent point JK. This article delves in Google search and search engines as an avenue for political manipulation, going beyond social media use and it’s an issue I’ve been thinking about for years, albeit in a much larger way than elections. For years, I’ve been wondering about the dumbing down of America, while in the midst of the greatest information revolution in the world, making unfathomable amounts of information being at our fingertips almost instantaneously.

    I read with interest the explanations for how search engines work, but somehow thinking back to the beginning years of the internet and how you could type something in a search engine and the results would contain information from all sorts of sources – both educational, reference sources along with news sites, etc. Now, Wikipedia has become the main source and you won’t access libraries or much in the way of academic research from Google. Even the popular medical websites rest as suspect due to federal dollars being used by the Obama administration to promote the Affordable Health Care Act via funding to WebMd, which received $14 million dollars from HHS (http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/218919-webmd-received-14m-to-promote-obamacare).

    Somehow, it seems improbable to believe there aren’t more human hands with agendas at work controlling information via Google and social media rather than benign algorithms. On facebook, the censorship seems to be very one-sided and politically-motivated. On Google, Wikipedia has become the first information source for most people – because it’s the only “encyclopedia” return you get and from years of conditioning us to believe that it’s better than it used to be, even skeptics use it and cite it. For general bio information, I use it. Most people don’t realize Wikipedia entries can be added and altered constantly, by anyone, and savvy politicians have folks monitoring and editing Wikipedia entries to twist information to their favor.

    Search engines, like Google, play to people’s most pervasive pattern of behavior – the vast majority of people want the fastest, most easily accessible information, ie, we’re lazy. Most people aren’t enthused about researching for days on end looking for tiny slivers of information, unlike oddballs like me (and you, JK), who will spend years searching for information and trying to find alternative avenues to achieving an end or seeking answers to an elusive bit of information needed to solve the puzzle.

  3. JK

    Our e-pal M LB has, over some period of time brought to my attention many fascinating (and at the same time, very troubling) features *perhaps* unique to Wikipedia.

    I’ve found a couple of links I think might confirm some of your worst fears but there’s another I’m specifically looking for – may take awhile for the one I’ve particularly in mind. But these two were quite recent, one an easily digestible article the other, Wiki-Edits in near realtime. (This last will give you the willies as, I suspect you might have had some suspicion yourself given what we’ve very recently experienced a debate. But one thing I’ve noticed during a political campaign season – there’s a helluva lot of “massaging History” goes on on all sorts of stuff – I haven’t located the two posts (links) I’m most interested in finding but one particularly has to do with “a team” of people *takes care* of a certain female pol’s personal Wiki-Page.

    From 2013 .. just for the flavor:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/view/517101/edit-wars-reveal-the-10-most-controversial-topics-on-wikipedia/

    And the Edits – just give this one about five minutes – talk about chills down the spine …

    http://rcmap.hatnote.com/#en

  4. JK

    Last one. Just a post but you might give it a try …

    http://malcolmpollack.com/2011/11/21/all-roads-lead/
    _________________

    Sure gives one pause don’t you think LB?

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