Such manipulation may be conducted for purposes of propaganda, discreditation, harming corporate or political competitors, improving personal or brand reputation or plain trolling among other things. To accomplish these objectives, online influencers, hired professionals and/or software − typically Internet bots such as social bots, votebots and clickbots − may be used.
- High-arousal emotion virality: It has been found that content that evokes high-arousal emotions (e.g. awe, anger or anxiety) is more viral and that this also hold when surprisingness, interestingness, or usefulness is taken into consideration.
- Simplicity over complexity: Providing and perpetuating simple explanations for complex circumstances may be used for online manipulation. Often such are easier to believe, come in advance of any adequate investigations and have a higher virality than any complex, nuanced explanations and information. (See also: Low-information rationality)
- Peer-influence: Prior collective ratings of an web content influences ones own perception of it. In 2015 it was shown that the perceived beauty of a piece of artwork in an online context varies with external influence as confederate ratings were manipulated by opinion and credibility for participants of an experiment who were asked to evaluate a piece of artwork. Furthermore, on Reddit, it has been found that content that initially gets a few down- or upvotes often continues going negative, or vice versa. This is referred to as "bandwagon/snowball voting" by reddit users and administrators.
- Filter bubbles: Echo chambers and filter bubbles might be created by Website administrators or moderators locking out people with altering viewpoints or by establishing certain rules or by the typical member viewpoints of online sub/communities or Internet "tribes"
- Confirmation bias & manipulated prevalence: Fake news does not need to be read but has an effect in quantity and emotional effect by its headlines and sound bites alone. Specific points, views, issues and people's apparent prevalence can be amplified, stimulated or simulated. (See also: Mere-exposure effect)
- Information timeliness and uncorrectability: Clarifications, conspiracy busting and fake news exposure often come late when the damage is already done and/or do not reach the bulk of the audience of the associated misinformation[better source needed]
- Psychological targeting: Social media activities and other data can be used to analyze the personality of people and predict their behaviour and preferences. Dr Michal Kosinski developed such a procedure. Such can be used for media or information tailored to a person's psyche e.g. via Facebook. According to reports such may have played an integral part in Donald Trump's win. (See also: Targeted advertising, Personalized marketing)
Algorithms, echo chambers and polarization
The proliferation of online sources represents a vector leading to an increase in media pluralism but algorithms used by social networking platforms and search engines to provide users with a personalized experience based on their individual preferences represent a challenge to pluralism, restricting exposure to differing viewpoints and news feed. This is commonly referred to as "echo-chambers" and "filter-bubbles".
With the help of algorithms, filter bubbles influence users' choices and perception of reality by giving the impression that a particular point of view or representation is widely shared. Following the 2016 referendum of membership of the European Union in the United Kingdom and the United States presidential elections, this gained attention as many individuals confessed their surprise at results that seemed very distant from their expectations. The range of pluralism is influenced by the personalized individualization of the services and the way it diminishes choice.
Comparisons between online and off-line segregation have indicated how segregation tends to be higher in face-to-face interactions with neighbors, co-workers, or family members, and reviews of existing research have indicated how available empirical evidence does not support the most pessimistic views about polarization. A study conducted by researchers from Facebook and the University of Michigan, for example, has suggested that individuals’ own choices drive algorithmic filtering, limiting exposure to a range of content. While algorithms may not be causing polarization, they could amplify it, representing a significant component of the new information landscape.
Research and use by intelligence and military agencies
The Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group unit of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British intelligence agency was revealed as part of the global surveillance disclosures in documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and its mission scope includes using "dirty tricks" to "destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt" enemies. Core-tactics include injecting false material onto the Internet in order to destroy the reputation of targets and manipulating online discourse and activism for which methods such as posting material to the Internet and falsely attributing it to someone else, pretending to be a victim of the target individual whose reputation is intended to be destroyed and posting "negative information" on various forums may be used.
Known as "Effects" operations, the work of JTRIG had become a "major part" of GCHQ's operations by 2010. The unit's online propaganda efforts (named "Online Covert Action") utilize "mass messaging" and the "pushing [of] stories" via the medium of Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. Online "false flag" operations are also used by JTRIG against targets. JTRIG have also changed photographs on social media sites, as well as emailing and texting colleagues and neighbours with "unsavory information" about the targeted individual. In June 2015, NSA files published by Glenn Greenwald revealed new details about JTRIG's work at covertly manipulating online communities. The disclosures also revealed the technique of "credential harvesting", in which journalists could be used to disseminate information and identify non-British journalists who, once manipulated, could give information to the intended target of a secret campaign, perhaps providing access during an interview. It is unknown whether the journalists would be aware that they were being manipulated.
Furthermore, Russia is frequently accused of financing "trolls" to post pro-Russian opinions across the Internet. The Internet Research Agency has become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post propaganda online under fake identities in order to create the illusion of massive support. In 2016 Russia was accused of sophisticated propaganda campaigns to spread fake news with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton and helping Republican Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election as well as undermining faith in American democracy.
In a 2017 report Facebook publicly stated that its site has been exploited by governments for the manipulation of public opinion in other countries – including during the presidential elections in the US and France. It identified three main components involved in an information operations campaign: targeted data collection, content creation and false amplification and includes stealing and exposing information that's not public; spreading stories, false or real, to third parties through fake accounts; and fake accounts being coordinated to manipulate political discussion, such as amplifying some voices while repressing others.
In 2016 Andrés Sepúlveda disclosed that he manipulated public opinion to rig elections in Latin America. According to him with a budget of $600,000 he led a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, manipulated social media to create false waves of enthusiasm and derision, and installed spyware in opposition offices to help Enrique Peña Nieto, a right-of-center candidate, win the election.
In the run up to India's 2014 elections, both the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and the Congress party were accused of hiring "political trolls" to talk favourably about them on blogs and social media.
The Chinese government is also believed to run a so-called "50-cent army" (a reference to how much they are said to paid) and the "Internet Water Army" to reinforce favourable opinion towards it and the Communist Party of China (CCP) as well as to suppress dissent.
In December 2014 the Ukrainian information ministry was launched to counter Russian propaganda with one of its first tasks being the creation of social media accounts (also known as the i-Army) and amassing friends posing as residents of eastern Ukraine.
In business and marketing
This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (February 2017)
Trolling and other applications
In April 2009, Internet trolls of 4chan voted Christopher Poole, founder of the site, as the world's most influential person of 2008 with 16,794,368 votes by an open Internet poll conducted by Time magazine. The results were questioned even before the poll completed, as automated voting programs and manual ballot stuffing were used to influence the vote. 4chan's interference with the vote seemed increasingly likely, when it was found that reading the first letter of the first 21 candidates in the poll spelled out a phrase containing two 4chan memes: "Marblecake. Also, The Game".
Some other potential measures under discussion are flagging posts for being likely satire or false. For instance in December 2016 Facebook announced that disputed articles will be marked with the help of users and outside fact checkers. The company seeks ways to identify 'information operations' and fake accounts and suspended 30,000 accounts before the presidential election in France in a strike against information operations.
Inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee considers putting few companies in charge of deciding what is or isn't true a risky proposition and states that openness can make the web more truthful. As an example he points to Wikipedia which, while not being perfect, allows anyone to edit with the key to its success being not just the technology but also the governance of the site. Namely, it has an army of countless volunteers and ways of determining what is or isn't true.
Furthermore, various kinds of software may be used to combat this problem such as fake checking software or voluntary browser extensions that store every website one reads or use the browsing history to deliver fake revelations to those who read a fake story after some kind of consensus was found on the falsehood of a story.[original research?]
Furthermore, Daniel Suarez asks society to value critical analytic thinking and suggests education reforms such as the introduction of 'formal logic' as a discipline in schools and training in media literacy and objective evaluation.
- Click farm
- Click fraud
- Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia
- Cost per impression
- Criticism of democracy
- Criticism of Facebook § 2014 emotion manipulation study
- Education reform
- Fake likes
- Fake news
- Filter bubble
- Foreign electoral intervention
- Framing (social sciences)
- Identity theft
- Media bias
- Media manipulation (category)
- Meme hack
- Ntrepid § Military contract
- Page view
- Photo manipulation
- Psychological manipulation
- Reputation management
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Search neutrality
- Sentiment analysis
- Social networking service § Unauthorized access
- Social undermining
- Sockpuppet (Internet)
- Spin (propaganda)
- Surveillance capitalism
- The Great Meme War
- Trend analysis
- Website monitoring
- "Cognitive Hacking" (PDF). 2003. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Thompson, Paul (2004). "Cognitive hacking and intelligence and security informatics" (PDF). Enabling Technologies for Simulation Science VIII. 5423: 142–151. doi:10.1117/12.554454. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "Cognitive Hacking: A Battle for the Mind" (PDF). Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Castells, Manuel (2015-06-04). Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780745695792. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "Condemnation over Egypt's internet shutdown". Financial Times. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "Net neutrality wins in Europe - a victory for the internet as we know it". ZME Science. 31 August 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Berger, Jonah; Milkman, Katherine L (April 2012). "What Makes Online Content Viral?" (PDF). Journal of Marketing Research. 49 (2): 192–205. doi:10.1509/jmr.10.0353.
- Hoff, Carsten Klotz von (6 April 2012). "Manipulation 2.0 – Meinungsmache via Facebook" (in German). Der Freitag. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Golda, Christopher P. (2015). Informational Social Influence and the Internet: Manipulation in a Consumptive Society. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "Moderators: New subreddit feature - comment scores may be hidden for a defined time period after posting • /r/modnews". reddit. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Solon, Olivia (27 April 2017). "Facebook admits: governments exploited us to spread propaganda". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- "Die Scheinwelt von Facebook & Co. (German-language documentary by the ZDF)" (in German). Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "Ich habe nur gezeigt, dass es die Bombe gibt". Das Magazin. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Beuth, Patrick (6 December 2016). "US-Wahl: Big Data allein entscheidet keine Wahl". Die Zeit. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- "The Data That Turned the World Upside Down". Motherboard. 2017-01-28. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report 2017/2018. http://www.unesco.org/ulis/cgi-bin/ulis.pl?catno=261065&set=005B2B7D1D_3_314&gp=1&lin=1&ll=1: UNESCO. 2018. p. 202.
- Flaxman, Seth, Sharad Goel, and Justin M. Rao. 2016. Filter bubbles, echo chambers, and online news consumption. Public Opinion Quarterly 80 (S1): 298–320.
- Pariser, Eli. 2011. The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin UK. Available at https://books.google.co.uk/?hl=en&lr=&oi=fnd&pg=PT3&dq=eli+pariser+filter&ots=g3PrCprRV2&sig=_FI8GISLrm3WNoMKMlqSTJNOFw Accessed 20 May 2017.
- Grömping, Max (2014). "Echo Chambers". Asia Pacific Media Educator. 24: 39–59. doi:10.1177/1326365X14539185.
- Gentzkow, Matthew, and Jesse M. Shapiro. 2011. Ideological segregation online and offline. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 126 (4): 1799–1839.
- Zuiderveen Borgesius, Frederik J., Damian Trilling, Judith Moeller, Balázs Bodó, Claes H. de Vreese, and Natali Helberger. 2016. Should We Worry about Filter Bubbles? Available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2758126. Accessed 20 May 2017
- Bakshy, Eytan, Solomon Messing, and Lada A. Adamic. 2015. Exposure to ideologically diverse news and opinion on Facebook. Science 348 (6239): 1130–1132.
- Hargittai. 2015. Why doesn't Science publish important methods info prominently? Crooked Timber. Available at http://crookedtimber.org/2015/05/07/why-doesnt-science-publish-important-methods-info-prominently/. Accessed 20 May 2017.
- "Snowden leaks: GCHQ 'attacked Anonymous' hackers". BBC News. BBC. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Snowden Docs: British Spies Used Sex and 'Dirty Tricks'". NBC News. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Glenn Greenwald (2014-02-24). "How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations". The Intercept. - contains the DISRUPTION Operational Playbook slide presentation by GCHQ
- Greenwald, Glenn (2014-02-24). "How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations". The Intercept. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Greenwald, Glenn and Andrew Fishman. Controversial GCHQ Unit Engaged in Domestic Law Enforcement, Online Propaganda, Psychology Research. The Intercept. 2015-06-22.
- Shearlaw, Maeve (2 April 2015). "From Britain to Beijing: how governments manipulate the internet". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Chen, Adrian (2 June 2015). "The Agency". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Watts, Clint; Weisburd, Andrew (6 August 2016), "Trolls for Trump - How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too)", The Daily Beast, retrieved 24 November 2016
- "Russian propaganda effort likely behind flood of fake news that preceded election", PBS NewsHour, Associated Press, 25 November 2016, retrieved 26 November 2016
- "Russian propaganda campaign reportedly spread 'fake news' during US election", Nine News, Agence France-Presse, 26 November 2016, retrieved 26 November 2016
- "Information Operations and Facebook" (PDF). 27 April 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Reinbold, Fabian (2017-04-28). "Konzern dokumentiert erstmals Probleme: Geheimdienste nutzen Facebook zur Desinformation". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- "Report: Facebook will nicht mehr für Propaganda missbraucht werden" (in German). WIRED Germany. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- "Facebook targets coordinated campaigns spreading fake news". CNET. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- "Facebook, for the first time, acknowledges election manipulation". Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- "How to Hack an Election". Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- "Man claims he rigged elections in most Latin American countries over 8 years". The Independent. 2 April 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- MacKinnon, Rebecca (2012). Consent of the networked: the world-wide struggle for Internet freedom. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-02442-1.
- "Ukraine's new online army in media war with Russia". BBC. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "Twitter pulls down bot network that pushed pro-Saudi talking points about disappeared journalist". NBC News. 19 October 2018.
- "The World's Most Influential Person Is..." TIME. April 27, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
- Heater, Brian (April 27, 2009). "4Chan Followers Hack Time's 'Influential' Poll". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on April 30, 2009. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
- Schonfeld, Erick (April 21, 2009). "4Chan Takes Over The Time 100". Washington Post. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
- "moot wins, Time Inc. loses « Music Machinery". Musicmachinery.com. April 27, 2009. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
- Reddit Top Links. "Marble Cake Also the Game [PIC]". Buzzfeed.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
- Maslin, Janet (31 May 2012). "'We Are Anonymous' by Parmy Olson". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "Debatte um "Social Bots": Blinder Aktionismus gegen die eigene Hilflosigkeit" (in German). WIRED Germany. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- "HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK - Daniel Suarez, Jan Kalbitzer & Frank Rieger". 7 December 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Jamieson, Amber; Solon, Olivia (15 December 2016). "Facebook to begin flagging fake news in response to mounting criticism". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Finley, Klint (2017-04-04). "Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the Web, Plots a Radical Overhaul of His Creation". Wired. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- "Bundestagsdebatte: Merkel schimpft über Internet-Trolle". Sueddeutsche.de (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. 1 November 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2017.