Wednesday 12 February 2020

disinformation war

In order to better understand the media field landscaped by the campaign to reelect Donald Trump and the onslaught of propaganda and targeted messages, Atlantic correspondent McKay Coppins crafted and curated a burner social media account to invite that worldview and narrative, one that’s grown increasingly fraught as more turn towards the subjective that suits them, in and study the amplification and obfuscation. It’s truly disturbing how the predilections we’ve offered up freely can be monetized and weaponized against us, and it’s pure hubris to think any one of us is immune to these effects and above the flattery of psychographics and peerage.

The despots that hold power with these tactics can even claim vindication and virtue since, given their loud-speaker and can out-shout any dissenting voices, they don’t need to resort to censorship and silencing critics—at least not broadly until the purge happens in earnest. What was particularly striking to me—though it should be rather patently obvious since despite the inordinate amounts of money involved in campaigning that’s a bar to entry for most there are still finite resources and finite attention—was how political parties, and not just the Republican National Committee but all election juggernauts in a mad dash to maintain an edge on the competition or at least keep pace, collect highly specific demographics on all the electorate, like any other marketing agency, and connect the dots of a constellation consisting of thousands of data points on each individual to serve advertisements and newsfeeds tailored and targeted for the narrowest of audiences. Rather than billboards or bumper stickers, I’ve realised that each of us has a unique media experience peppered with ads and suggestions that no one else fully shares or is privy to, and perhaps if civics and politics is commercialized in the same fashion—customized and optimized—our doubt, distrust and disinterest are strengthened.