Someone tried to manipulate what you saw on FaceBook about people leaving an election rally while President Obama was speaking. Hey it’s the United States and we have over two hundred years of being rude to the president. That’s nothing new but when did manipulating social media get so common that even the White House feels they can get away with it?
Wag the Dog types are monkeying around with your social media. It’s a new type of politics. Tech evangelists preach about engaging citizens, facilitating grass roots groups, and above all crafting legislation with direct input. Meanwhile the back room guys are seeing the possibilities in how the Spam Kings are running rings around the algorithms used to determine what you see on your screen and applying it to their kind of politics. This is way beyond the original twitter-bombing that helped President Obama get elected.
The Conservative American Future Fund (AFF) got caught red handed in an attack against Martha Coakley. The Democratic candidate in the special election to fill the Senate seat left by the death of Ted Kennedy was hit by a now classic case of dirty politics high tech style. Coakley was “Twitter-Bombed” but the object wasn’t to saturate social media with a message. By the time Twitter shut down the anonymous accounts opened by AFF the spike created had gamed Google’s search functions into displaying links to anonymous web sites with their negative payload against Coakley. This was the actual goal of the operation. Eni Mustafaraj and Panagotis Metaxes of Wellesley College have documented the whole dirty affair and others like it. Voting the grave yard has nothing compared to Twitter bombing Google search engines.
“We have a 90 percent success rate at tracking this sort of abnormal behavior on social networks, and it happens frequently” says Menczer. “People are being manipulated without realizing it because a meme can be given instant global popularity by a high search engine ranking, in turn perpetuating a falsehood.” – Fillippo Menczer principal investigator for Truthy
Social Media remains untouched by campaign finance and transparency laws. For an unscrupulous politician “Information Pollution” is a low cost option with the potential of reaching a large number of people. If you’re caught just make another account. Paul Ryan legal counsel and FEC program director at Campaign Legal Center states “The operative terms here are “hiring” or “paying” influencers in the social space. To put it simply if Senator Fat Cat bought an ad here at Superficial Gallery he’d be subject to scrutiny but if he paid me to influence your opinion and create links to friendly web pages in order to game powerful social media sites nobody cares.
You all trust me right?