Liberals Amping Right Wing Conspiracies

You read the headline correctly: Liberals Amping Right Wing Conspiracies.

It’s the only reasonable conclusion after reading Molly McKew‘s post: How Liberals Amped up a Paranoid Shooting Conspiracy Theory.

From the post:

This terminology camouflages the war for minds that is underway on social media platforms, the impact that this has on our cognitive capabilities over time, and the extent to which automation is being engaged to gain advantage. The assumption, for example, that other would-be participants in social media information wars who choose to use these same tactics will gain the same capabilities or advantage is not necessarily true. This is a playing field that is hard to level: Amplification networks have data-driven, machine learning components that work better with refinement over time. You can’t just turn one on and expect it to work perfectly.

The vast amounts of content being uploaded every minute cannot possibly be reviewed by human beings. Algorithms, and the poets who sculpt them, are thus given an increasingly outsized role in the shape of our information environment. Human minds are on a battlefield between warring AIs—caught in the crossfire between forces we can’t see, sometimes as collateral damage and sometimes as unwitting participants. In this blackbox algorithmic wonderland, we don’t know if we are picking up a gun or a shield.

McKew has a great description of the amplification in the Parkland shooting conspiracy case, but it’s after the fact and not a basis for predicting the next amplification event.

Any number of research projects suggest themselves:

  • Observing and testing social media algorithms against content
  • Discerning patterns in amplified content
  • Testing refinement of content
  • Building automated tools to apply lessons in amplification

No doubt all those are underway in various guises for any number of reasons. But are you going to share in those results to protect your causes?

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