Egret and crab

Friday, January 1, 2021

Participatory disinformation

I was listening to a GOP congressman-elect today struggle to explain how the election had been "stolen" from Trump. 

He offered no facts or substantiation, it was enough for him to feel like it had been stolen. 

“There’s no question in my mind that I think he won,” he said.

I think that skillful media manipulators know that humans are more apt to listen to their feelings than their rational minds, assuming of course that they still have rational minds.

Hudgins sent this interesting article over from the Guardian which might help explain how people can be convinced of the most outlandish conspiracies. This type of bunk or hog swaller might even pack more punch than your garden variety top down propaganda. And it is obviously self perpetuating. And is a definite warning sign regarding the danger of individuals, left or right, staying in their own narrow media silo.

...This “serious fragmentation” of the American media ecosystem presents a starkcontrast with, say, the UK, where during some weeks of the pandemic, 94% of the UK adult population, including 86% of younger people, tuned into the BBC, a publicly funded broadcaster, according to official statistics.

And the left and right in the US don’t merely have different sets of media outlets for their different audiences: they have also developed distinct models of information-sharing, Wardle said. Mainstream media outlets still follow a traditional top-down broadcast model: an authoritative source produces the news and sends it out to consumers. The rightwing media ecosystem, which developed through talk radio, on the other hand, operates as a network of media personalities interacting with each other, “a community telling stories to their own community”, Wardle said.

Trump has built on that, embracing what Kate Starbird, a University of Washington professor who studies disinformation, on Twitter called a model of “participatory disinformation”.

“Trump didn’t just prime his audience to be receptive to false narratives of voter fraud, he inspired them to create them … and then echoed those false claims back at them,” she wrote.

Participatory disinformation might actually be “stickier” and more effective than “top-down propaganda”, Starbird argued, in part because of the “positive reinforcement” of Trump supporters seeing their “‘discoveries’ repeated by their media & political celebrities”.

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