Social media is awesome because you can do a lot of things with it. Searching the internet via a search engine is awesome too. No need to bookmark or know the Dewey Decimal System. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do a research paper in college today. Back in my day it was painful…..
I don’t know if you saw this article but it caught my eye over the weekend and I wanted to share it with you. Glenn Reynolds linked to it. Richard Epstein is a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California. He did some scientific research on elections using Google search results. He had a control group, null hypothesis and the study can be replicated. What he found might be shocking to you.
For years now, corporate marketers have been working closely with social scientists to influence our behavior. Calming music at the grocery store causes us to walk more slowly. The book “Nudge” is an entire behavioral scientist study on how to set systems up to get people to the things the elite perceives are good for them. It turns out, search engines and social media can have similar effects.
Google is clearly backing Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s campaign team has hired several top Google employees and donations from management at Google are going to Clinton. They have the power to drive 2.6M to 10.4M votes to her. The same with sites like Facebook and Twitter.
I also think that social media sites have made it so noisy that only highly extreme views can blow through. The bombastic Donald Trump struck a nerve among a niche of Republicans on immigration and exploited it to become the front runner. Crony and hard left candidate Hillary Clinton was the chosen one by the Democratic Party elite, but the socialist Bernie Sanders has all the fire and energy. The media wants ratings and fuels the fires, and actually helped Trump get traction. Gerrymandering throughout the country by both political parties adds to the extremism.
Epstein sums up,
We are living in a world in which a handful of high-tech companies, sometimes working hand-in-hand with governments, are not only monitoring much of our activity, but are also invisibly controlling more and more of what we think, feel, do and say. The technology that now surrounds us is not just a harmless toy; it has also made possible undetectable and untraceable manipulations of entire populations – manipulations that have no precedent in human history and that are currently well beyond the scope of existing regulations and laws. The new hidden persuaders are bigger, bolder and badder than anything Vance Packard ever envisioned. If we choose to ignore this, we do so at our peril.
What’s the defense for this? Hard to say. Once you are aware, it helps a little. You can use other sites for search like DuckDuckGo, or establish a social network on a site like Ello. There is a new internet browser that doesn’t track you on the internet called Brave. But, it’s difficult.
Our Silicon Valley corporate overlords are trying to influence the way we think. Google’s Eric Schmidt is active not only funding the Clinton tech campaign, but also finding talent for it. Make no mistake about it, Silicon Valley claims to be libertarian but leans heavily Democratic. Follow their money, and the way they juice their algorithms. The sad thing is even when you know you are getting manipulated it is awfully hard to stop it.