Disinformation and propaganda are not new; they have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. With algorithm-driven social media platforms, however, they have become a lot easier to do; these days, it has even been automated. Those comments on Facebook that got you all riled up? Maybe it’s a bot … and perhaps it’s even a bot being used by another country let alone another political party, a corporation, even somebody down the street. How do you feel about getting fooled by a piece of software?
The quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” was uttered long before the advent of the Internet. But, the sentiment is still relevant; algorithms and bots and, frankly, corporate greed are used to “fool” many people much of the time, to make you act in a way they want (spend money, vote, post and tweet, lobby for legislation, etc.).
Does the fact that you are being manipulated make you uncomfortable? Does it make you mad? Would you like to do something about it?
If so, there is actually good news. No, it is not waiting for federal legislation or sending off a screed on Facebook or Twitter. The first and most important thing you can do is to take action about yourself.
Stop being manipulated. Use your brain. When the information is important to you (personal, professional, academic, etc.), be skeptical. Do not accept the information automatically at face value.
Here are four points that can help put you more in charge of the decisions you make:
- Seek information, not affirmation
- Source + Motivation = Value
- Dig deeper–do not rely on just one source
- Understanding is key
We will explore each of these in subsequent posts. Visit again for more!
Questions? Please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).