Comic Talk and General Discussion *

Quackcast 561: Online echochambers, radicalisation, AI maipulation, and the growth of modern conspiracies.
Ozoneocean at 4:11AM, Dec. 9, 2021
posts: 28,716
joined: 1-2-2004
Good people are being increasingly manipulated through online interaction and being encouraged to subscribe to various conspiracies, For example the antivaxers and anti-covid, ant-mask crown etc.
This has a really surprising melange of causes that are not immediately obvious.

I've been doing a HEAP of reading on this from multiple recent sources, here's a short summary of the causes.

1. AI personalisation of user experience and interaction on social media sites:
This creates an AI driven echo-chamber, for example, Facebook or Google determines what it thinks you're interested in, who you might like and what you might like to buy and shows you more of it, and this becomes a vicious cycle because it keeps repeating the process the more you buy into it and getting more extreme.

2. Social echo-chambers:
This is where most of the people you know think the same and so they influence you more, and you get rid of the people who don't think the same. It turns out this isn't as much of a factor as once thought because news sources factor in higher than just word of mouth.

3. A tendency towards extremism in online interaction:
Whatever your basic bias is when you begin communication online using social media, you will tend towards a more radical version of that stance (because of the above points), this makes you more receptive to manipulation. This was actually tested using neutral bots to follow how they changed with their first interactions. And it was then backed up by tracking the behavior and connections of real world twitter users.

4. External manipulation:
This comes in several flavours - There are groups who deliberately get together to spread their ideas and try and manipulate people. They can be state actors (Russian or Chinese government etc), Terrorist groups (ISIS), Commercial groups (Multilevel marketers), or just crazy conspiracy theorists (911 truthers). Increasingly they're using their own AI and social media bots to very easily and cheaply influence on a large scale- The social media bots increase the profile of the news sources chosen by the groups as well as spreading the info directly.
Some of it is about converting people to their side, some of it is about making money from scams and ads, and some is just about spreading social unrest or influencing elections and so on.

It was surprising to read that a lot of the online conspiracy content is simply AI generated, much like clickbait and celebrity articles.

Deliberate manipulation using social bots seems to be the biggest factor. The stupid AI personalisation on the big sites that control the net (google, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Apple, etc) creates an environment where this sort of manipulation is possible. The external manipulators simply take advantage of it.
Ozoneocean at 4:23AM, Dec. 9, 2021
posts: 28,716
joined: 1-2-2004
I've had a long interest in fighting misinformation online and encouraging factual resources. I donate to Snopes, Wikipedia, Skeptoid Media, and the web archive (wayback machine etc). All neutral (within reason) general online information sources that are extremely important.
Furwerk studio at 6:25PM, Dec. 9, 2021
posts: 213
joined: 12-18-2019
I don't know if it helps but I noticed in the tabletop community there is a strong, and I mean strong presence of Fascist in a lot of gaming groups. Hell the guys behind the Warhammer 40K, Gamework shop, had to say they don't want Neo-Nazis to buy their stuff or come to their cons after a guy showed up in full neo-nazi gear. The story is here. And they use sites like 1D4chan and Therpgpundit forum to hook up and forum their brand of echo chamber, and use “humor” as a shield when somebody tries to tell them there might be something wrong.

I remember once on Furaffinity a member of the community flooded the front page with “kill furries” Warhammer memes and when challenged on it crossed a line the poster just said, “it's a joke, learn to laugh.”

Only they weren't joking, they were very honest in wanting to murder people like me, anime fans and other people who “offended them”.

Honestly it feels like one step towards radicalization is one part thinking one is a hero, two parts toxic maturity, one part a group or target to hate and a dash of anger before being mixed well with larger than life legends and myth. With the Nazi party it was Norse Mythology and various cultures they stole from for their own gain, with modern Radicals the myth of the “self made man” where anyone can pull themselves up if they just worked hard enough.

Hell I fell into the “anti-sjw” crowd for a long time when it was starting because it felt like I was watching a lot of things I liked be stripped away and told “I was a bad man”, I hated censorship so much because I watched great shows from over seas being chopped and butchered to bits for moral watch dogs and thought “these guys want to defend my right to express myself.”

I found out Radicals want to censor too, just as bad those moral watch dogs after they came after my interest and found the people they championed were just vile in real life. Look up Dave Sims and you will see what I mean.

Sorry for the ramble, I just thought I put my two cents in.
Ozoneocean at 8:14PM, Dec. 9, 2021
posts: 28,716
joined: 1-2-2004
Yep, that's all part of the consequences of this stuff. The curated online world that the big tech set up and groups then exploit disposes everyone to heightened emotional states and anger and furry about things that no one would normally be angry about. Whatever your leaning, it's increased.

Though it's not even across the board. Rightwing stuff tends to lead to more issues. Probably because it's the default in most western culture. The left has never been much of a real force.
bravo1102 at 1:21AM, Dec. 10, 2021
posts: 6,042
joined: 1-21-2008
Dig deep enough and almost all conspiracy theories of the 20th century are somehow connected to the Nazis.

Racial supremacist groups use conspiracy sites as a hook to recruit and go deep enough into the copy and paste literature and the racialist views emerge.

A lot of postwar conspiratorial writing is tied into Nazi adoration and the Hitler survival mythology.
hushicho at 9:07PM, Dec. 10, 2021
posts: 161
joined: 10-4-2007
And surprise, surprise – literally all of the most controlling forces of the modern internet are ones trying to cash in on it and manipulate people most chiefly for want of profit, not for any philanthropic reasons whatever.
♥*♡∞:。.。 Official Site 。.。:∞♡*♥
Andreas_Helixfinger at 12:11AM, Dec. 11, 2021
posts: 374
joined: 3-16-2019
It is because of stuff like this, I feel, I don't use social media much anymore these days. I certainly don't trust them. Lately I've been working on some comic stuff to post on Instagram. But I don't know. This sort of thing makes me think I might have to reconsider that perhaps.
ArrenMcStealsalot at 9:02AM, Dec. 11, 2021
posts: 40
joined: 8-24-2021
One of the reasons why there are more conspiracy theories, is because media are trying to fix something that's not broken and instead of just telling the news, they are trying to sell you the news by making everythng more intense and exciting. When you watch soething about antivaxer, who is now dying and telling you to get the jab while you still can (with super dramatic music in the background), and later it's discovered that this person was an actor hired because TV station wanted to make this story more interesting, you start to question everything else.
And speaking od anti-this or anti-that, I noticed how often some important and complicated issue is reduced to throwing all people who want to question something into a big anti-X bag. Doesn't matter if the person believes in reptilian overlords or just has some ligit questions, they will be both thrown into one big bag, showed as anti-X, but only for 3 minutes, because this is all the time we can dedicate to this issue before very important advertisements start.
This “instant culture” is the big problem we have now. No time to think, no time to talk, just point your finger at some anti-X, because Big Corporation told you to, and after 4 minutes of hate you can return to being good consumer, buying some shit you don't need.

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