Researchers from London School of Economics report about their ongoing research into political targeting on Facebook in the UK (the research is done in collaboration with WhoTargetsMe, a browser extension to measure political targeting on Facebook):
As we made clear in our first two posts, our analysis here is exploratory. It is, for example, unclear to what extent our dataset is representative of Conservatives’ online advertising throughout this campaign, and the WhoTargetsMe sample of potential voters, from whose Facebook feeds our data is scraped, may be skewed.
Bearing in mind these problems, we can say that, of the 820 exposures to ads paid for by Conservatives that we analysed, 28% (or 232 items) attacked Corbyn using facts that appear to be false or are clearly manipulated to confound the reader – and sometimes both.
Generally, Conservatives used 73% (598) of its 820 ads exposed in our sample to attack Corbyn. They are not, of course, the only ones targeting opponents. As we have shown, both Labour and Lib Dems have done the same. However, while ads by these other parties conveyed simplifying messages, portraying adversaries as weak, immoral or pro-elite, we couldn’t find, at least in our samples, pieces by them using baseless or misleading facts.
What is the role of search in shaping opinion? Survey results indicate that, among others: 1. The filter bubble argument is overstated, as Internet users expose themselves to a variety of opinions and viewpoints online and through a diversity of media. Search needs to be viewed in a context of multiple media. 2. Concerns over echo chambers are also overstated, as Internet users are exposed to diverse viewpoints both online and offline. Most users are not silenced by contrasting views, nor do they silence those who disagree with them. 3. Fake news has attracted disproportionate levels of concern, in light of people’s actual practices. Internet users are generally skeptical of information across all media and know how to check the accuracy and validity of information found through search, on social media, or on the Internet in general.
Source: Search and Politics: The Uses and Impacts of Search in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United States by William H. Dutton, Bianca Christin Reisdorf, Elizabeth Dubois, Grant Blank :: SSRN
“The tech industry is in the middle of a massive, uncontrolled social experiment. Having made commercial mass surveillance the economic foundation of our industry, we are now learning how indiscriminate collections of personal data, and the machine learning algorithms they fuel, can be put to effective political use. Unfortunately, these experiments are being run in production. Our centralized technologies could help authoritarians more than they help democracy, and the very power of the tools we’ve built for persuasion makes it difficult for us to undo the damage done. What can concerned people in the tech industry do to seize a dwindling window of opportunity, and create a less monstrous online world?”
The recent election, which took place beneath a cloud of fake news, revealed that Americans cloister in like-minded online communities. Since then, it’s become increasingly fashionable to complain about the polarizing power of the Internet. Everyone from Katy Perry to Barack Obama to the Pope has lamented the social-media echo chamber and its corrosive effects on society.
If the Internet is truly tearing the nation apart, though, it’s hard to see that in the data. Plugged-in millennials aren’t the ones who seem to be getting more polarized, according to a new Stanford study. In fact, it’s the opposite: Over the past 20 years, political acrimony spiked among older Americans — the same people who are least likely to use the Internet.
“This is a propaganda machine. It’s targeting people individually to recruit them to an idea. It’s a level of social engineering that I’ve never seen before. They’re capturing people and then keeping them on an emotional leash and never letting them go,” said professor Jonathan Albright.Albright, an assistant professor and data scientist at Elon University, started digging into fake news sites after Donald Trump was elected president. Through extensive research and interviews with Albright and other k
See Liberal Facebook and Conservative Facebook, Side by Side
Source: Blue Feed, Red Feed
Edgar M. Welch of North Carolina was charged after a shooting at a Washington pizzeria that he thought was harboring young children as sex slaves.
“The reason why it’s so hard to stop fake news is that the facts don’t change people’s minds,” said Leslie Harris, a former president of the Center for Democracy & Technology