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.

Trump’s shameless disinformation puts Democrats in a bind — and cou...

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.

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I mentioned the wise advice of one of the Founding Fathers over in Quotations:

Half the Truth is often a great Lie. Be not quick to believe everything you read on the Internet. --Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack

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

There's also a "junior" version for kids: "Bad News" in American English and in British English (mostly "principal" vs. "head teacher").

And I'll repeat my own maxim: Ad blockers are psychological self-defense.

Which is why I'm glad I've been running Cliqz now for over a year and NOT SORRY. Also doesn't hurt that I'm NOT on Facebook!

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.

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