The Age of Disinformation
The Age of Disinformation
September 1, 2013 9:32 pm Philippine Time
XX number of (days, weeks, months) before the Meltdown
We always see what we want to see.
We always hear what we want to hear.
We always know what we want to know.
If you happen to drop by on this blog post right now, please take the time to read as this post is going to be one of the most important ones I've ever written. I'm going to write about something that you already know, in the hopes that you'll look at the same thing deeper.
We are no longer in the age of information. We are already in the age of disinformation.
Make no mistake about it, it's going to get infinitely worst.
As I write this, an article on a popular social network is getting shared. It is from a blog with an authoritative sounding domain name written by an authoritative sounding author. Its headline is carefully crafted and believable because it speaks to our innermost desires - or fears.
In this age, the voices of reason will be drowned out. Because online as it is offline, we as a species are easily drawn towards the brightest of lights. We follow the words and the people who seem to lead us to anywhere we want to go.
A few days ago, news spread of a suicide. It was not real.
This is very trivial and a useless piece of information. But enough people believed it, enough people shared that piece of information faster than wild fire. It almost became the truth. Who would know the truth except the person who bore it?
Google is not perfect
Technology is not perfect.
Nobody said that it was.
But we automatically assume it.
If you want to know about something - anything, what is the first thing that you do?
You search for it on Google.
Links and results come out. Most often than not, the results give us the information that we need.
These results can be manipulated by professionals.
Because a lot of people got rich by doing this.
Because I used to work for people who did this for a living.
Because I know how they do it.
Google tries to fight it by employing ever complicated algorithms and search signals. But the best SEO (Search engine optimizers) are always ahead of this game. Within a manner of days or even hours after a search algorithm update, black hat SEO professionals are always quick to change their tactics to get back in the rankings.
Being on top of the Google search results is profitable.
Astroturfing and Social Media
Google's foray into social media through Google Plus was meant to cure this problem as well as address competitive concerns against the rise of Facebook. It is a good business strategy. It is a good computational approach to enhance the search engine rankings.
But it is not perfect.
For one, like most things in this world, the most powerful social signals whether embodied in +1s, likes, or retweets can be bought and sold. Friends and followers can be bought. Approval can be bought. Writers can be bought.
The proof that the market exists:
The Reason Why Crowdsourcing Politics Will Not Work
Democracy only works if its citizenry are well informed with the correct information. Give Democracy false information and they will act according to that piece of false information.
Crowds are inherently emotional creatures that cannot be controlled once unleashed.
You only need to light the fire and they will follow it. Once it moves. It cannot be stopped. When you try to stop it with the force of police or the military, they will only resist it more. This will push a democracy towards a police state and at worst - a dictatorship.
The only solution to prevent this is to educate the citizenry. Who can educate the citizenry except the state? How can a state educate its citizens, if its citizens do not trust it?
Both the State and its Enemies Can Use Disinformation
In the same way that technology levelled the playing field, it has also made available the same weapons to all parties involved. The weapon of choice is disinformation.
What are people afraid of?
What do they want?
Who will they follow?
Who will they believe?
Who do they trust?
Who do they hate the most?
What do they hate and love the most?
Answer these questions and you can tap into the thoughts of the citizenry. Influence the influencers thoughts and you influence their followers.
The first lie: you are in control of everything, including your own thoughts.