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Smoke & Mirrors and Social Media

Thanks to for the following info:

A new report has found that, while seemingly ubiquitous, much of the targeted harassment of [Meghan] Markle on Twitter comes from a small but coordinated group of users. In fact, the analysis revealed that 70 percent of the hateful posts examined came from just 83 accounts. The tweets had an estimated reach of 17 million Twitter users.

Just 83 accounts are controlling a message with a reach of 17 million users? That’s both eye-opening and very frightening.

Until we deal with the fact that global perception about any person, any place, or any information can be created or altered by anyone with access to a keyboard, communication standards are in grave danger. That source can stay under the radar, work with the algorithms, and expand the story’s reach without roadblocks.

This reminds me of Orson Welles and his Halloween radio broadcast in 1938, in which he described aliens attacking Earth. People believed his story was based in fact, and panic spread across the country. Or that’s what we were led to believe. In truth, very few people heard the radio show, no one committed suicide as a result of it, and there was very little “panic.” A perception can be created simply by a few people presenting a particular position and others passing it on. Enter the internet, and voilà: We have 83 accounts creating a global belief that Meghan Markle is hated the world over.

This all comes back to what I have said for a number of years: The solution to the problem is never going to be the government controlling content and social media platforms. The responsibility lies with those who click on the “shiny object” links and those who forward or repost content/information/images/videos for which they have no confirmation of authenticity. One of the most disturbing things related to the growth the right-wing conspiracy theorists have enjoyed is that housewives from rural America, for example, were minding their own business on social media, when they were targeted by QAnon and other crazies. They scurried down the rabbit hole, believing the information that was presented to them as if it were credible news. Some have paid dearly for their innocent mistake. I receive all my news on Twitter. I can follow the writers and columnists I trust and who I believe are accurate purveyors of the news, and I don’t have to pay attention to the others. This saves me time and allows me to absorb more information than I would otherwise have the time to filter. I have confidence in the news I take in, and I have confidence in the news I put out. But some friends — smart friends — have posted information I believe they needed to do some due diligence on before posting, and I’ve told them so. Their friends and family members may well believe that anything they post is the truth, and in some cases, gospel. We, the people, control content. We, the people, can change the trajectory of how we spread truth and interesting information by taking responsibility for what we read, what we forward, what we like, and what we share. It’s honestly not all that difficult.

--Christine Merser, Managing Partner, Blue Shoe Strategy


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