We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Facebook Wants You to Vote on Tuesday. Here's How It Messed With Your Feed in 2012

Click here to access article by Micah L. Sifry from Mother Jones
...Facebook has been reticent to discuss its product experiments and their impact on voting. After all, most of its users have no idea that the company is constantly manipulating what they see on their feeds. In June, when a team of academics and Facebook data scientists revealed that they had randomly altered the emotional content of the feeds of 700,000 users, the company was met with global outrage and protest. The actual impact of this research into "emotional contagion" was tiny; the data showed that a user would post four more negative words per 10,000 written after one positive post was removed from his or her feed. Still, people were enraged that Facebook would tamper with the news feed in order to affect the emotions of its users. (The lead academic researcher on that study, Jeff Hancock, needed police protection.)
The title of this article rather trivializes the full significance of ruling class attempts to engineer our perceptions and behaviors. The main issue is not about Facebook's attempt to affect voting or an issue of Democrats versus Republicans. Someone who is fully aware of its significance is Assistant Professor Zeynep Tufekci who has studied the history of the engineering of consent and pointed to Facebook's manipulation of the vote as indicating the future direction of this type of manipulation of the public. She first brought this to the attention of academics in her scholarly paper entitled "Engineering the public: Big data, surveillance and computational politics". To address these wider concerns to the global internet audience, in July she published an article entitled "Facebook and Engineering the Public" which I urge you to read. 

This nefarious development using the internet is only at the beginning stages, with much more dangerous attempts coming in the future to manage the minds of the Ninety-Nine Percent. The internet, more specifically the world wide web, is a mixed bag. It can be used as a marvelous tool to enlighten the Ninety-Nine Percent or it can be used to manipulate them. You can be sure that our masters in the One Percent will make every attempt to use it for the latter purpose. Thus, it is mandatory for all activists to be aware of this threat.

On a related manner, read how the FBI fakes news events on the internet in their operations in this recent article entitled "FBI created fake Seattle Times Web page to nab bomb-threat suspect".