[Discussion] The Inconceivable Power of Trolls in Social Media

This is a follow-on to the nearly two year old topic "Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point." The intention is to provide a place to discuss the unreasonable power social media trolls have over women and minorities, with a primary focus on video games (though other examples are certainly welcome).

The idiots at Gab (i.e. Twitter for people somehow too toxic for Twitter) have a new browser plugin called "Dissenter" that's supposed to let users comment on any website, but only other Dissenter users can see them. Somehow this something something free speech something social media overlords blah blah.

Vice has a good article, but I can't find the best one I read this morning which had the money quote "I just commented that 'Gamergate was about ethics in gaming journalism' and there's nothing Wikipedia can do about it!"... yeah buddy, I can do that with my legal pad too, doesn't make it special.

Weirdly, though, it's almost an interesting technological idea. Annotating sites and sharing that with a group could be useful; the problem is just the same base problem this whole thread is about.

qaraq wrote:

The idiots at Gab (i.e. Twitter for people somehow too toxic for Twitter) have a new browser plugin called "Dissenter" that's supposed to let users comment on any website, but only other Dissenter users can see them. Somehow this something something free speech something social media overlords blah blah.

Vice has a good article, but I can't find the best one I read this morning which had the money quote "I just commented that 'Gamergate was about ethics in gaming journalism' and there's nothing Wikipedia can do about it!"... yeah buddy, I can do that with my legal pad too, doesn't make it special.

Weirdly, though, it's almost an interesting technological idea. Annotating sites and sharing that with a group could be useful; the problem is just the same base problem this whole thread is about.

Sounds like an easy way to identify the white nationalist incels all in one convenient echo chamber that civilized human beings aren't forced to hear. What's the downside?

JeffreyLSmith wrote:

Sounds like an easy way to identify the white nationalist incels all in one convenient echo chamber that civilized human beings aren't forced to hear. What's the downside?

That the entirety of that echo chamber will be filled with people egging each other on to commit terrorism?

The lyrics site Genius used to offer this service of annotating any web site. I read an article about it years ago and it seemed problematic even back then because it basically allows anyone to effectively add content to your site without permission. I'm not sure if it's still available as a service.

My opinion is we need (way) less people posting on the web, not more.

PaladinTom wrote:

The lyrics site Genius used to offer this service of annotating any web site. I read an article about it years ago and it seemed problematic even back then because it basically allows anyone to effectively add content to your site without permission. I'm not sure if it's still available as a service.

Yeah, but you're not though.

They're adding content to Gab's website, which is then being pasted into "my" site when it's visited.

If I install one of those browser extensions that replaces the text string President Trump with Tangerine Muppet, I'm not adding content to the New York Times when i read a story about the president, am I?

Jonman wrote:
PaladinTom wrote:

The lyrics site Genius used to offer this service of annotating any web site. I read an article about it years ago and it seemed problematic even back then because it basically allows anyone to effectively add content to your site without permission. I'm not sure if it's still available as a service.

Yeah, but you're not though.

They're adding content to Gab's website, which is then being pasted into "my" site when it's visited.

If I install one of those browser extensions that replaces the text string President Trump with Tangerine Muppet, I'm not adding content to the New York Times when i read a story about the president, am I?

Yeah, this type of service has been around forever in internet terms.

I mean it's essentially the same as sharing a link on Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/whatever and then discussing it there. The conversation is completely external to the site in question, it's just a more seamless way of viewing that conversation.

Whoop! Wrong place!

Anti-vaxx 'mobs': doctors face harassment campaigns on Facebook

When the naturopath Elias Kass testified before a Washington state senate committee on 20 February with a baby on his chest and a pacifier in his hand, he knew that his arguments would be unpopular with the anti-vaccine activists in the room. Amid a measles outbreak that has infected 66 people so far, legislators were considering a bill to eliminate personal and philosophical exemptions for childhood vaccinations, and Kass was one of several practitioners to speak in support of the measure.

Kass faced some anger in the hallway after the hearing, he said, with one person calling him “a disgusting liar”. But it wasn’t until several hours later that “the sh*t hit the fan”. That’s when Kass realized that his Facebook page was being flooded with one-star reviews calling him everything from a “disgrace” and a “pedophile” to a “Nazi pharma shill” and “scumbag shilling for infanticide”. Kass disabled the Yelp-like reviews feature on the page, but that didn’t stop the onslaught, which moved into the page’s comments and across the ecosystem of anti-vaxx Facebook pages and groups. By Monday, five days after his brief testimony, he had compiled a photo gallery with hundreds of screenshots of abusive comments.

Kass is only the latest pro-vaccine health practitioner to be subjected to an online harassment campaign by anti-vaxxers. Networks of closed Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members have become staging grounds for campaigns that victims say are intended to silence and intimidate pro-vaccine voices on social media. The harassment only exacerbates an online ecosystem rife with anti-vaccine misinformation, thanks in part to Facebook’s recommendation algorithms and targeted advertising.

“Their goal is to tell my patients what a bad person I am so I lose business,” Kass told the Guardian by phone, five days into his ordeal. “It’s made me reluctant to engage online.”

They're not just taking a line or a page, they took the entire anti-abortion playbook. Right down to the things you call doctors.

BadKen wrote:

They're not just taking a line or a page, they took the entire anti-abortion playbook.

Actually, it's about ethics in bodily autonomy.

It's almost too perfect that the viral hoax known as "The Momo Challenge" has drawn the most flailing concern about god-awful garbage content being peddled to kids on YouTube and not.... y'know, all the other stuff.

It's really just too perfect. We are screwed.

Humanity is going to die out, and it'll be our own fault.

Eleima wrote:

Humanity is going to die out, and it'll be our own fault.

Climate change pretty much guarantees that. :\

In a way, yes and in a way, no. I'm hopeful that descendants of humans can survive climate change. Whether they will still be genetically compatible with humans today seems awfully trivial.

Nah.

Civilization might well die out, but there'll be humans left. We're far too cockroachy to let a little thing like climate change get us all.

Jonman wrote:

Nah.

Civilization might well die out, but there'll be humans left. We're far too cockroachy to let a little thing like climate change get us all.

There's some really extreme scenarios that have dire consequences for the entire biosphere, but they're very speculative IIRC. But it'll still suck whatever the case, we just get to choose the degree to which it is going to suck to live through.

Our tech level will quickly degrade if society is under stress for a period of time which may make it difficult to survive outside of purpose built shelters and even those will have a due date.

U.S. users are leaving Facebook by the millions, Edison Research says

New numbers from Edison Research show an an estimated 15 million fewer users in the United States compared to 2017. The biggest drop is in the very desirable 12- to 34-year-old group. Marketplace Tech got a first look at Edison's latest social media research. It revealed almost 80 percent of people in the U.S. are posting, tweeting or snapping, but fewer are going to Facebook.

That's why Facebook bought Instagram (and would buy Tik Tok if they could). Youngsters think Facebook is for the olds now, they're primarily on the aforementioned apps, along with YouTube and Twitch. I'd love to get a breakdown as to how many of those users leaving are 50+.

Meanwhile, FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTTTUUUUUUUUUUUREEEEEEE

Samia was an influencer before she could talk.

Her parents, Adam and LaToya Ali, are influencers themselves and began chronicling Samia’s impending arrival on YouTube and Instagram in 2014, once Ms. Ali learned she was pregnant.

“Samia’s birth video is on YouTube, so she’s pretty much been born into social media,” Mr. Ali said.

Samia is now 4 and has 143,000 followers on Instagram and 203,000 subscribers on YouTube. Her feeds are mostly populated with posts of her posing and playing, but they also feature paid promotions for brands like Crayola and HomeStyle Harvest chicken nuggets.

There are instances when “Samia can’t verbatim get the message out,” Mr. Ali, who lives in the Atlanta area, said of the promotional posts. “Sometimes, their talking points are not kid talk, so LaToya would need to appear, or myself, to relay those because those are key deliverables that the brands want.”

Welcome to the world of kidfluencers. Brands have flocked to influencers — individuals, famous or not, with large followings on social media — for years, hoping their online popularity will prompt their fans to buy the products they vouch for. Then child influencers started appearing on their parents’ profiles, a surreal but seemingly harmless offshoot of this phenomenon.

Now, advertisers like Walmart, Staples and Mattel are bankrolling lucrative endorsements deals for toddlers and tweens with large followings and their own verified profiles on YouTube and Instagram. As a result, children too young to make their own accounts on the platforms are being turned into tastemakers.

Honestly kinda looking forward to climate change destroying our way of life.

I miss the days when Pred would post weird Russian stuff he found at deviantart in the Picture Thread, instead of seriously depressing privacy news stories in the D&D forum.

Prederick wrote:

That's why Facebook bought Instagram (and would buy Tik Tok if they could). Youngsters think Facebook is for the olds now, they're primarily on the aforementioned apps, along with YouTube and Twitch. I'd love to get a breakdown as to how many of those users leaving are 50+.

It's also why Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2016 and Google followed with an offer of $30 billion.

According to Pew Research, about 20% of 50 to 64 year-olds and 12% of 65+ year-old deleted Facebook from their phones last year. 44% of 18-29 year-old did the same.

IMAGE(http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/2018/09/FT_18.09.05_FacebookRelationship_younger-users-privacy-settings.png)

Even with that there's still more younger adults than older adults using Facebook because social media use craters in the 50+ crowd, especially for the newer social media platforms.

IMAGE(http://www.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2018/02/PI_2018.03.01_Social-Media_0-02.png)

Stengah wrote:

Honestly kinda looking forward to climate change destroying our way of life.

I'm not choosy, I'll also accept a giant meteor.

dejanzie wrote:

I miss the days when Pred would post weird Russian stuff he found at deviantart in the Picture Thread, instead of seriously depressing privacy news stories in the D&D forum.

I miss not having a background thrum of terror about the future always sitting in the back of my mind as well!

Stengah wrote:

Honestly kinda looking forward to climate change destroying our way of life.

Once in a while dark humor lands just right for me. Dang.

Prederick wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

I miss the days when Pred would post weird Russian stuff he found at deviantart in the Picture Thread, instead of seriously depressing privacy news stories in the D&D forum.

I miss not having a background thrum of terror about the future always sitting in the back of my mind as well!

wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

The internet truly is super-duper fake, and thanks to the malleability of digital media and the jet fuel of network virality, a digital lie can spread more quickly, and cause more damage, than an analog one.

We all know that. Still, the blame-the-internet formulation has grown useless lately, because “the internet” has become inseparable from everything else. Social networks are now so deeply embedded into global culture that it feels irresponsible to think of them as some exogenous force. Instead, when it comes to misinformation, the internet is a mere cog in the larger machinery of deceit. There are other important gears in that machine: politicians and celebrities; parts of the news media (especially television, where most people still get their news); and motivated actors of all sorts, from governments to scammers to multinational brands.

As these players adapt to a digital politics, they infect and become infected by novel possibilities for misinformation. It is in the confluence of all these forces that you come upon the true nightmare: a society in which small and big lies pervade every discussion, across every medium; where deceit is assumed, trust is naïve, and a consensus view of reality begins to feel frighteningly anachronistic.

You don’t need to travel far to find such a nightmare. But distance can help clarify the picture: It’s easier to appreciate the simmering pot when you’re looking at it from the outside, rather than boiling in it.

And so I spent much of the last week watching a pot boil over on the other side of the world.

In retaliation for a terrorist attack against Indian troops last month, India conducted airstrikes against Pakistan. After I learned about them, I tried to follow the currents of misinformation in the unfolding conflict between two nuclear-armed nations on the brink of hot war.

What I found was alarming; it should terrify the world, not just Indians and Pakistanis. Whether you got your news from outlets based in India or Pakistan during the conflict, you would have struggled to find your way through a miasma of lies. The lies flitted across all media: there was lying on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp; there was lying on TV; there were lies from politicians; there were lies from citizens.

Besides outright lies, just about everyone, including many journalists, played fast and loose with facts. Many discussions were tinged with rumor and supposition. Pictures were doctored, doctored pictures were shared and aired, and real pictures were dismissed as doctored. Many of the lies were directed and weren’t innocent slip-ups in the fog of war but efforts to discredit the enemy, to boost nationalistic pride, to shame anyone who failed to toe a jingoistic line. The lies fit a pattern, clamoring for war, and on both sides they suggested a society that had slipped the bonds of rationality and fallen completely to the post-fact order.

...................

What I’ve shared here is just a taste. If you dive into the tireless fact-checking sites policing the region, you’ll find scores more lies from last week, some that flow across both sides of the conflict and many so intricate they defy easy explanation.

And you will be filled with a sense of despair.

The Indian government recently introduced a set of draconian digital restrictions meant, it says, to reduce misinformation. But when mendacity crosses all media and all social institutions, when it becomes embedded in the culture, focusing on digital platforms misses the point.

In India, Pakistan and everywhere else, addressing digital mendacity will require a complete social overhaul. “The battle is going to be long and difficult,” Govindraj Ethiraj, a journalist who runs the Indian fact-checking site Boom, told me. The information war is a forever war. We’re just getting started.

Certis wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Honestly kinda looking forward to climate change destroying our way of life.

Once in a while dark humor lands just right for me. Dang.

It makes you wonder what Fallout 76 could have been