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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

REPORT: Armies of Cyber-Troops Manipulating Public Opinion

Click here to access a summary of a (linked) PDF report issued by the The Computational Propaganda Research Project at Oxford University and posted on TruePublica.org.uk.

The basic findings include:
  • The earliest reports of organised social media manipulation emerged in 2010, and by 2017 there are details on such organisations in 28 countries, including the US and UK.
  • Looking across the 28 countries, every authoritarian regime has social media campaigns targeting their own populations, while only a few of them target foreign publics. In contrast, almost every [capitalist] democracy in this sample has organised social media campaigns that target foreign publics, while political-party-supported campaigns target domestic voters.
  • Authoritarian regimes are not the only or even the best at organised social media manipulation. The earliest reports of government involvement in nudging public opinion involve [capitalist] democracies, and new innovations in political communication technologies often come from political parties and arise during high-profile elections.
  • Over time, the primary mode for organising cyber troops has gone from involving military units that experiment with manipulating public opinion over social media networks to strategic communication firms that take contracts from governments for social media campaigns. 
          [my insertions to add greater accuracy]