Propaganda expert Emma L Briant explains how Trump won swing states in 2016. 2.5 million individuals in swing states who were identified as vulnerable, anxious, or insecure were personally targeted for vote manipulation, by making them more scared and resentful.
Paid as campaign contractors, a surveillance infrastructure of intelligence operatives custom designed tweets, Facebook ads, Instagram memes, and videos to exploit those with the most fragile psyches using the politics of blame, lies, grievance, and distrust. What's your greatest fear? Your weakness? They have the most effective weaponized messages just for you.
As a German Marshall Fund analysis of Russian “information manipulation” has noted, a lot of its disinformation “is not, strictly speaking, ‘fake news’ [overt lies]. Instead it is a mixture of half-truths and selected truths, often filtered through a deeply cynical and conspiratorial world view.”
… another trend: the appearance of faked videos.
..., the Trump campaign has put out a knowingly false video on Facebook ... That video was seen 5 million times.
Attacks in cyberspace may not be entirely traceable, eluding even the best new tools. The resulting murkiness can cause confusion, which is one goal of propagandists: to plant doubts and conspiracies that eclipse clarity and facts while confusing voters. [bold mine]
image source (text mine)
John Schellnhuber discusses the importance of nonlinear dynamics in climate, as well as social, economic, and psychological arenas. [See 3:45 to 4:5 in John Schellnhuber: NonLinear Responses to save civilization]
The end of civilization can happen "pretty soon and pretty quickly", he says.
It's all about nonlinearlity.
The nonlinearities are our biggest enemies when it comes to the Earth System. On the other hand, why I’m still optimistic is that in society you also have nonlinear dynamics. Tipping points of social, economic, psychological terms.
While social and psychological tipping points can lead to positive change, there are also destructive social and psychological nonlinear dynamics. Surely the transformation of a major political party into an organization dependent upon exploiting our deepest personal vulnerabilities to turn us against each other,... <ach!> it's next-level organized psychopathy. Isn't it obvious to more people than Emma Briant that this tactic can unravel civil society surprisingly fast, just like an avalanche? GOP mind controllers make Hitler's propagandists look like amateurs.
I mentioned the wise advice of one of the Founding Fathers over in Quotations:
Easier said than done, though, especially when the topic arouses fear or anger!
And I'll repeat my own maxim: Ad blockers are psychological self-defense.
(uBlock Origin is working well for me.)
And I'll also repeat something Ruth shared: it seems to be possible to "inoculate" people against disinformation to a degree, by having them play the role of a propagandist in a quick online game.
Fake news ‘vaccine’ works: ‘pre-bunk’ game reduces susceptibility to disinformation (University of Cambridge)
The game itself: https://getbadnews.com/#intro
And I'll repeat my own maxim: Ad blockers are psychological self-defense.
Fellow NON-Facebooker here; not sorry either!
About ad blocking, it's notable that The Guardian and The Independent chose to not put articles behind paywalls, and to not play ad-blocker-blocker games; instead, they politely ask for donations or subscriptions. I've sent them money.
A few other self-defense measures to consider:
If you're comfortable editing your "hosts" file to block certain sites:
For Android, Blokada is a phone-wide (not just the web browser) ad and tracking blocker. It checks all internet requests against a blacklist of hosts. You don't need a rooted phone; it creates a "VPN" service. Get it not through the Play Store but through the smaller but safer F-Droid repository of free and open-source apps: https://f-droid.org/ .
(Any suggestions for MacOS, Linux, or iPhone?)
... custom designed tweets, Facebook ads, Instagram memes, and videos to exploit those with the most fragile psyches using the politics of blame, lies, grievance, and distrust.
This is the exact opposite of public health when it comes to mental health! Literally poisoning the well of public information (I'm used to thinking of "poisoning the well" as a one-on-one debate fallacy) and attacking the well-being of society, all for the sake of oligarchs' short-term profit and power.
I'm on Facebook as a political activist and on there I use a slightly different name of Deno Penno. I always use an ad blocker and for many things I do I use a VPN. My only interest in "likes" is when the meme shown matches what I consider real issues, and not the issues of the fearfully angry Trumpers who think Trump is "hurting the wrong people." This quote is exactly why his supporters are so angry and also why they cannot discuss anything without going back into every person in office prior to Trump. While they claim it is the rest of us who are angry, this simply is not so. Trump supporters are the most fearful and this might be why a MAGA hat wearer named Dempsey sprayed "anti-Trump commies" with bear repellent recently. Dempsey claimed he did nothing wrong. This is the same thing as the Trump GOP claiming today that Trump did nothing wrong. It simply is not so and those of us who still support a "rule of law" see it quickly.
Yesterday at a library the 23 year old librarian told me he could see exactly what the current clamor about Trump is but he thinks we are over reacting and following outdated rules and laws. OK, why does he not respond with anything viable when you ask if he likes this sort of transparency which would make dictatorship possible? He has no clue because his family is most likely guided by the same anger that most Trumpers have.
I've actually been told that the immigrants are a big problem. This belief comes from a fear that they are "taking something away from you" even when you had no dreams of being a migrant fruit picker. Certain idiots believe that they come here and instantly get benefits that the rest of us had to work hard for. It simply is not true.
My insurance lady continues to have issues with "Medicare for all" because she does not want to pay for someone else's healthcare. This is the ill-fated argument of you controlling your own tax dollar. You cannot opt out and you cannot get the money back, but want to complain that somebody got something free and you paid more. This is all caused by fear based messages and lies.
...she does not want to pay for someone else's healthcare...
Ah, yes, the "moral hazard" of "undeserved", "unearned" benefits.
How many of those political "conservatives" are Christians? That's a religion whose entire basis is the "moral hazard" of people getting salvation completely unearned, not through any goodness or merit of their own, but entirely through their God's grace and mercy!
But that's me so it doesn't count.
About spreading doubt and confusion -- a widely-used technique of manipulative "journalism", predating the internet, is to pose theories as questions: "Is the Loch Ness Monster in Michigan?" "Was Scalia actually murdered?" "Was Hillary colluding with our enemies through secret emails?" "Are deep-state career bureaucrats secretly plotting to oust President Trump?" etc. They're technically not asserting these statements, but planting ideas and doubts all the same!
Thanks for making this technique more salient for me.