Law in the Internet Society
When I read about algorithms and echo-chambers, I can't help but think about the 2016 United States presidential elections as a prime example in which algorithms functioning within social media platforms had two related outcomes:

1. Market segmentation which encouraged the creation of niche echo chambers, within which misinformation that confirmed and strengthened biases

2. The amplification of inflammatory posts based on the amount and intensity of the comments/likes/retweets/shares they elicited

Additionally, the Russian government, an external entity with greater efficacy in the virtual space given its experience with ransomware, utility hacking, and specifically using bots to exploit algorithms, intervened and exerted its influence according to its own motives.

It makes me wonder about the idea of the "public sphere" and whether or not we can truly argue that there is one anymore. Some say it exists online, that the "virtual public" has surpassed and replaced the "public sphere" and that the rise of the Internet has ensured that anyone with access to the net and to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have a say. But what is the value of "my opinion" online, what is my voice worth?

A brief intro to the basics of filters, algorithms and echo-chambers.

If you are interested in the topic I suggest the following as well:

-- MadihaZahrahChoksi - 02 Oct 2017

I am interested in your theory about the "public sphere" being replaced by the virtual public. One could argue that the public sphere, being a place where the issue of the day was debated, was never truly public given society has always managed to exclude some voices from that space - women, POC etc. Following that thinking, one could argue (and I'm sure the social media platforms do) that the virtual sphere is the first true public space where all voices can participate in a conversation on any topic. However, we tend to group to our own ideals, and this, as the articles you linked pointed out, has an effect on what we then see on social media platforms, and what our algorithms allow us to see on social media platforms.

I personally find online platforms terrible places to debate things like politics - everyone is willing to speak but no-one will listen and so there is no real debate; grandstanding and insults seem to be the order of the day. Added to that I get a bit concerned that people are turning to social media platforms to source their news. Perhaps social media platforms should go back to sharing cat videos and photos of everyone's lunch...

Re Russia's meddling - I found this statement in your second link to be very interesting: "Though we often think of disinformation as being employed to convince us of a specific ideology, in a 2014 article titled “The Menace of Unreality”, Pomerantsev and Weiss describe how Russian disinformation strategies (which they trace back to Lenin) are designed not to convince but to confuse, to create “muddled thinking” within in society. Their strategic argument is that a society who learns it cannot trust information can be easily controlled. It is possible that the current media ecosystem — including the alternative media domains and the social media platforms that help spread links to these domains — is contributing to muddled thinking (a relative or effect perhaps of an crippled epistemology)."

Do you think their strategy is working? Are we learning not to trust information? (cf alt facts...)


-- RebeccaBonnevie - 27 Oct 2017



Webs Webs

r4 - 27 Oct 2017 - 00:20:53 - RebeccaBonnevie
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