Troll farms and the broadcast of misinformation. Pt 3
So how do troll farms cultivate misinformation and trolling?
Cultivating a troll farm is an entirely organic process that requires no paycheck. A paycheck just offers a troll farm more time to spread misinformation and troll.
Cultivating a troll farm that spreads misinformation requires no more than “groupthink” to form, and this is the first dynamic aspect to forming a troll farm, a way to distinguish the “group” from the “other”. This is easily understood as the classic “us versus them” mentality.
The social group depends upon building consensus around what are for all sakes and purposes just keywords that identify both the group and the “other” they are targeting.
Now that a social group has formed somewhere on the internet, anywhere from Facebook to Twitter, from Reddit to Twitch to Wikipedia is all possible, the social dynamics of inner group competition will begin to form.
The Groupthink dynamic
These group dynamics within rely on avoiding contradictions within the group while relegating the groups worst possible behaviors and choices made in the expression of being against the other.
This creates a competition within the group for attention and status within the group.
Who is the biggest “defender” of the group? Who is the angriest? Who vocalizes the loudest message within the group? Who is the strongest voice within the group? Who has the authority within the group? Who controls the groups message? Who decides which is the group consensus, and which the consensus rejects?
This competition within the social group for power of broadcast creates a psychological irony, each troll farm actually requires the troll farm of the “other” to justify their own quest for dominance or influence within their own group.
While warring ideological sides appear in media to be in a competition between their counterpart influencers and bloggers, they actually wind up supporting and building each other’s audience, a type codependence. The enemies of one group empower both sides responses, which then can be amplified by naturally occurring troll farms.
The Dark Collaboration
To give an example of this tragic irony playing out, I will use one more well known example, the “social justice warriors” of left-wing to center politics to the “alt-right”, “dark enlightenment”, “MAGA” counterparts online.
A known center to left wing influencer, with tens to hundreds of thousands of followers, requires something to complain about for them to continue to nurture their own followers and audience.
Who has the biggest “left-wing” voice? What other left-wing to center influencers are out there, competing for audience size and credibility?
After all, YouTube and Facebook’s algorithm is going to recommend the content of the left to center influencer, and only one influencer at a time can be at the top of each algorithm that is fed to us.
While such an influencer may continue to, for example, criticize their counterparts such as Joe Rogan or Jordan Peterson, it’s not Dr. Peterson nor Joe Rogan whom is their real “enemy” in their own struggle to build more followers, it is “other” left wing to center influencers, competing for the same audience size and set of followers and likes that they are, optimized by social media platforms.
And the opposite is also true.
Dr. Peterson and Joe Rogan have embedded themselves into their audience sizes by also participating in having, and requiring, their ideological opponents from the center to left criticize them, troll them, indeed using the “trolling and misinformation” tactics of the other sides “troll farm” to amplifying their own message to their audience, thereby building it. “We’re under attack from the left” becomes a viral message that builds more community for them while they are competing for other center to right voices, along the same algorithms optimized by social media to distribute the most competitive minded influencers at the top of discovery and recommendation algorithms.
Each side, from left to center to center to right, is literally creating the circumstance for the exact issue they voice to concern, unaware that the entire dynamic is co-created in an entire ecosystem of justified online harassment and trolling and optimized for these behaviors by social media algorithms seeking to boost their monthly active users (MAUs) to justify their CPMs (cost per thousand eyeballs for advertisers).
So while influencers, troll farms and misinformation sink into group think competition, what is actually transpiring over a much larger view of the data is that ideological troll farms on opposite ideological sides actually help keep each other in “power” in terms of their own communities and this dynamic is further amplified by social media algorithms rewarding competition within peer groups by competing their top influencers against each other.
This has created quite a nasty feedback loop making much of this problem intractable within current media and tech architecture, as the economy is fueling a $150B a year industry in the US alone.
So while SJW and MAGA appear to “battle” online, there is an unconscious collaboration happening instead. They need each other and both sides use each other continually to gain status within their own social groups.
The loudest voices of each potential social group has a payoff in the form of advertising dollars paid to them by the platforms that host them.
Because this inner group competition emerges from individuals who wish to serve their social groups in such confrontational capacity, the “other” becomes more and more dehumanized, and those offering “tough” solutions, arising from “frustrations” and “angers” they distribute within their group to influence support, win in the group consensus. This group consensus, formed from suppressive, toxic, or abusive methodologies then inform what is broadcast to peak discovery on the internet through internet search and social media algorithms optimizing for data via likes and voting along specific keywords.
All ideological groups will have members that view their ideological struggle as the imperative. There will be members of that ideological group that will seek their purpose in that group by engaging in toxic confrontation with their opponents.
The internet has given this particular psychological type a set of broadcast tools, and they have perfectly gamed the tools the internet has given them.
If the computer interface of social media currently empowers group think, troll farms and misinformation, then this means that there can exist another type of digital environment, an environment where only mutually resolving behaviors have control of the permission to publish to the internet itself.
In Non-dual consensus methodology of Aiki Wiki, a digital interface for large scale online consensus building, the psychological dynamics of group-think can be predicted to collapse online through a unique type computer interface design, a few simple new online tools.
While I am not so naive as to assume the social media giants would adopt something like it, I do show how it is possible, that a pathway could emerge through a re-design of basic standard online tools that could in theory eradicate misinformation and trolling from internet publishing, where the internet comes to discover information that was collaboratively formed between ideological differences as easier to discover than the troll farms on all sides seeking to win influence by dark collaborations that only solve the problem of audience development, not resolution.
A demonstration of Aiki Wiki is available upon request.