industryterm:media ecosystem

  • How Russia Hacked U.S. Politics With Instagram Marketing – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/17/how-russia-hacked-us-politics-with-instagram-marketing

    While the message itself was not aimed at swaying voters in any direction, researchers now believe it served another purpose for the Russian group: It boosted the reach of its account, likely won it new followers, and tried to establish the account’s bona fides as an authentic voice for the black community.

    That advertising pitch was revealed in a report released Monday by the Senate Intelligence Committee and produced by the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge. The report provides the most comprehensive look to date at the Kremlin’s attempt to boost Trump’s candidacy and offers a surprising insight regarding that campaign: Moscow’s operatives operated much like digital marketers, making use of Instagram to reach a huge audience.

    By blending marketing tactics with political messaging, the Internet Research Agency (IRA) established a formidable online presence in the run-up to the 2016 election (and later), generating 264 million total engagements—a measure of activity such as liking and sharing content—and building a media ecosystem across Facebook and Instagram.

    The authors of the report believe @blackstagram__ served as a vehicle for Kremlin propaganda targeting the American black community, skillfully adopting the language of Instagram, where viral marketing schemes exist side by side with artfully arranged photographs of toast.

    As Americans streamed to the polls on Nov. 8, 2016, @blackstagram__ offered its contribution to the Kremlin’s campaign to depress turnout, borrowing a line from a Michael Jackson song to tell African-Americans that their votes didn’t matter: “Think twice before you vote. All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us. #Blacktivist #hotnews.”

    While the effect of the IRA’s coordinated campaign to depress voter turnout is difficult to assess, the evidence of the group’s online influence is stark. Of its 133 Instagram accounts, 12 racked up more than 100,000 followers—the typical threshold for being considered an online “influencer” in the world of digital marketing. Around 50 amassed more than 10,000 followers, making them what marketers call “micro-influencers.”

    These accounts made savvy use of hashtags, built relationships with real people, promoted merchandise, and targeted niche communities. The IRA’s most popular Instagram accounts included pages devoted to veterans’ issues (@american.veterans), American Christianity (@army_of_jesus), and feminism (@feminism_tag).

    In a measure of the agency’s creativity, @army_of_jesus appears to have been launched in 2015 as a meme account featuring Kermit the Frog. It then switched subjects and began exclusively posting memes related to the television show The Simpsons. By January 2016, the account had amassed a significant following and reached its final iteration with a post making extensive use of religious hashtags: ““#freedom #love #god #bible #trust #blessed #grateful.” It later posted memes comparing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to Satan.

    “The Internet Research Agency operated like a digital marketing agency: develop a brand (both visual and voice), build presences on all channels across the entire social ecosystem, and grow an audience with paid ads as well as partnerships, influencers, and link-sharing,” the New Knowledge report concludes. “Instagram was perhaps the most effective platform.”

    #Instagram #Politique #USA #Russie #Médias_sociaux

  • How Russia Hacked U.S. Politics With Instagram Marketing – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/17/how-russia-hacked-us-politics-with-instagram-marketing

    The Internet Research Agency took to the photo-sharing network to boost Trump and depress voter turnout.

    Donald Trump as U.S. president, Kremlin operatives running a digital interference campaign in American politics scored a viral success with a post on Instagram.

    The post appeared on the account @blackstagram__, which was in fact being run by the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked troll farm that U.S. authorities say orchestrated an online campaign to boost Trump’s candidacy in 2016. It racked up 254,000 likes and nearly 7,000 comments—huge numbers for the Kremlin campaign.

    But oddly, the post contained no political content.

    Instead, it repurposed an ad for a women’s shoe, with a photo of women of different skin tones wearing the same strappy high heel in different colors. The caption pitched the shoes as a symbol of racial equality: “All the tones are nude! Get over it!

    While the message itself was not aimed at swaying voters in any direction, researchers now believe it served another purpose for the Russian group: It boosted the reach of its account, likely won it new followers, and tried to establish the account’s bona fides as an authentic voice for the black community.

    That advertising pitch was revealed in a report released Monday by the Senate Intelligence Committee and produced by the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge. The report provides the most comprehensive look to date at the Kremlin’s attempt to boost Trump’s candidacy and offers a surprising insight regarding that campaign: Moscow’s operatives operated much like digital marketers, making use of Instagram to reach a huge audience.

    By blending marketing tactics with political messaging, the Internet Research Agency (IRA) established a formidable online presence in the run-up to the 2016 election (and later), generating 264 million total engagements—a measure of activity such as liking and sharing content—and building a media ecosystem across Facebook and Instagram.

    That campaign sought to bring Russian political goals into the mainstream, exacerbate and inflame divisions in American society, and blur the line between truth and fiction, New Knowledge’s report concludes.

    Amid the intense discussion of Russian interference in the 2016 election, investigators probing that campaign had devoted relatively little attention to Instagram until now. But following their exposure in 2016 and early 2017, the IRA’s operatives shifted resources to Instagram, where their content often outperformed its postings on Facebook. (Instagram is owned by Facebook.)

    Of the 133 Instagram accounts created by the IRA, @blackstagram__ was arguably its most successful, with more than 300,000 followers. Its June 2017 ad for the shoe, made by Kahmune, was the most widely circulated post dreamed up by the Kremlin’s operatives—from a total of some 116,000. (The shoe continues to be marketed by Kahmune. Company officials did not respond to questions from Foreign Policy.)

    The authors of the report believe @blackstagram__ served as a vehicle for Kremlin propaganda targeting the American black community, skillfully adopting the language of Instagram, where viral marketing schemes exist side by side with artfully arranged photographs of toast.

    As Americans streamed to the polls on Nov. 8, 2016, @blackstagram__ offered its contribution to the Kremlin’s campaign to depress turnout, borrowing a line from a Michael Jackson song to tell African-Americans that their votes didn’t matter: “Think twice before you vote. All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us. #Blacktivist #hotnews._

    Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators have secured indictments against the Internet Research Agency’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and a dozen of its employees.

    While the effect of the IRA’s coordinated campaign to depress voter turnout is difficult to assess, the evidence of the group’s online influence is stark. Of its 133 Instagram accounts, 12 racked up more than 100,000 followers—the typical threshold for being considered an online “_influencer” in the world of digital marketing. Around 50 amassed more than 10,000 followers, making them what marketers call “micro-influencers.”

    These accounts made savvy use of hashtags, built relationships with real people, promoted merchandise, and targeted niche communities. The IRA’s most popular Instagram accounts included pages devoted to veterans’ issues (@american.veterans), American Christianity (@army_of_jesus), and feminism (@feminism_tag).

    In a measure of the agency’s creativity, @army_of_jesus appears to have been launched in 2015 as a meme account featuring Kermit the Frog. It then switched subjects and began exclusively posting memes related to the television show The Simpsons. By January 2016, the account had amassed a significant following and reached its final iteration with a post making extensive use of religious hashtags: “#freedom #love #god #bible #trust #blessed #grateful. ” It later posted memes comparing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to Satan.

    The Internet Research Agency operated like a digital marketing agency: develop a brand (both visual and voice), build presences on all channels across the entire social ecosystem, and grow an audience with paid ads as well as partnerships, influencers, and link-sharing,” the New Knowledge report concludes. “Instagram was perhaps the most effective platform.

    Monday’s report, which was published alongside another by researchers at the University of Oxford and the network analysis firm Graphika, is likely to increase scrutiny of social media platforms. The New Knowledge report accuses technology firms of possibly misleading Congress and says companies have not been sufficiently transparent in providing data related to the Russian campaign.

  • Facebook and Google’s Targeted Advertising Is Ruining the Internet and Breaking the World

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/xwjden/targeted-advertising-is-ruining-the-internet-and-breaking-the-worl

    In copying the traditional media’s advertising-based business model, internet companies neglected to adopt a crucial rule: the separation between business operations and editorial decisions. Though the rule was far from universally respected, 20th century journalism’s code of ethics prohibited financial considerations from influencing news coverage. This ethical screen allowed American capitalism to subsidize the press, which in turn helped keep the government and companies honest: checks and balances at work.

    This all fell apart with targeted advertising, which stole journalism’s lunch money and used it to sustain platforms whose driving logic isn’t to educate, to inform, or to hold the powerful to account, but to keep people “engaged.” This logic of “engagement” is motivated by the twin needs to collect more data and show more ads, and manifests itself in algorithms that value popularity over quality. In less than 20 years, Silicon Valley has replaced editorial judgment with mathematical measures of popularity, destabilized the democratic systems of checks and balances by hobbling the Fourth Estate, and hammered nail after nail into the coffin of privacy.

    (...) Targeted advertising provides tools for political advertisers and propagandists to micro-segment audiences in ways that inhibit a common understanding of reality. This creates a perfect storm for authoritarian populists like Rodrigo Duterte, Donald Trump, and Jairo Bolsanaro to seize power, with dire consequences for human rights. Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott, authors of the “Digital Deceit” report series, note that “ we have permitted technologies that deliver information based on relevance and the desire to maximize attention capture to replace the normative function of editors and newsrooms .”

    For decades, thinkers like Hannah Arendt, Karl Polanyi, and many others have repeatedly warned us that fascism is the direct consequence of subordinating human needs to the needs of the market. Having willfully ignored the lessons of history, we have allowed corporate greed to transform our media ecosystem into one that structurally favors authoritarian populism. Saving democracy requires more than reforming internet companies, of course, and the exact recipe for success varies by country. In the United States, we need to reverse 30 years of media deregulation, exponentially increase public support for public interest media, and address the structural inequalities in our electoral system that give power to a party that less than half the electorate supports.

    #surveillance_capitalism #media_deregulation #authoritarian_populism

  • Media Manipulation, Strategic Amplification, and Responsible Journalism, by danah boyd
    https://points.datasociety.net/media-manipulation-strategic-amplification-and-responsible-journ

    Media manipulators have developed a strategy with three parts that rely on how the current media ecosystem is structure:

    1. Create spectacle, using social media to get news media coverage.
    2. Frame the spectacle through phrases that drive new audiences to find your frames through search engines.
    3. Become a “digital martyr” to help radicalize others.

    (…) Using search to your advantage relies on what Michael Golebiewski at Bing calls a “data void.” When people search for a phrase that does not have natural informative results, it’s easy for manipulators to control the results.

    (...) YouTube is a disaster. First, there’s a lot less content on YouTube, which means that problematic content surfaces to the top faster. Second, YouTube isn’t simply a search engine; it’s also a recommendation engine that encourages people to view more videos and go on a journey. This is great for music discovery, but not so great when manipulators game the recommendation system to create pathways to extremist content

    (…) In addition to playing with algorithmic systems, media manipulators exploit a psychological process known as “apophenia.” By creating connections between random ideas, manipulators warp the cultural imaginary. By inviting people to see artificial patterns, they engage potential recruits to see reality in their terms.

  • The Christian Right’s Origins of Fake News and ’Alternative Facts’ | Alternet
    http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/christian-rights-origins-fake-news-and-alternative-facts

    As we’ve moved from an election dominated by fake news to a new Trump administration run on the principle of “alternative facts,” it’s worth taking some time to ponder what seems to be contemporary conservative credulity. We should certainly be reminded of the term “truthiness” that Stephen Colbert invented in October 2005 to capture some of the pronouncements of the George W. Bush administration. As he explained then, truthiness was the truth that “comes from the gut,” not from actual facts—“the truth we want to exist,” that feels right.

    And the way fake news tends to get better reception among conservatives than liberals, even by a two-to-one margin, has also been recognized. (When one fake news creator was interviewed, he explained, “We’ve tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You’ll get debunked within the first two comments, and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out.”)

    To see this connection, it bears recalling what it meant to be a Christian “fundamentalist” in the early 20th century. Christian fundamentalism was characterized in particular by its rejection of two theologically disturbing bodies of knowledge that emerged from the 19th century: the theory of evolution, and the historical-critical method of Bible scholarship. While mainstream Protestant and Catholic churches have had considerable success in coming to terms with these expert knowledge consensuses, Christian fundamentalism is defined primarily by its rejection of them.

    The historical-critical method of Bible scholarship meanwhile threatened the idea of scripture as the inerrant, uniform word of God. [...]Fundamentalist Christians rejected these accounts. But more importantly, fundamentalists critiqued the methods, assumptions, and institutions of the expert elites. Fundamentalists questioned the biologists’ and Bible scholars’ suspension of the question of God’s supernatural intervention.

    This alternative knowledge—the forerunner of today’s alternative facts— took the form of creationism and an alternative Bible scholarship demonstrating the Bible’s inerrancy and traditional authorship.

    This alternative educational and media ecosystem of knowledge was galvanized and mobilized when the Christian Right emerged in the late 1970s to influence the Republican Party. There were two long-term consequences for our fake news world. First, theologically and politically conservative Christians learned to distrust the proclamations of the supposedly neutral media establishment, just as they had grown to suspect the methods and conclusions of elite experts like scientists or historians. And second, they learned to seek the truth from alternative sources—whether a church sermon, Christian media (newspapers, books, radio or television shows), or a classroom in a Christian college.

    In the following years, the areas of rejected expert knowledge has grown to include climate change, the efficacy of abstinence-only sex education, and even the supposed link between vaccinations and autism. One could make the argument that even issues that don’t appear to have any religious resonance at all—such as the efficacy of supply-side economic policies, or the idea that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction and ties to Al Qaeda—are likewise successful partly because of this conservative cognitive training in the rejection of mainstream media and the cultivation of other sources of information, like Fox News at first, but also now websites like Breitbart, 4chan, Infowars, and others.

    The goal of “fake news” and “alternative facts” goes beyond providing different data. Their purpose is actually to destroy the notion that there could be impartial news and objective facts. Maria Bustillos calls this endgame “dismediation,” “a form of propaganda that seeks to undermine the medium by which it travels.”