Psychological warfare through Social Media

The question of the credibility of the web and in particular of the so-called social media is increasingly under discussion: Governments increasingly accuse their opponents of making use of false news (fake news), but, as often recalled, the distortion Of truth is no less frequent on the part of those who hold power, especially media.

Manipulating minds

If there was still a need for confirmation, here is the brilliant study of the Computational Propaganda Research Project of the authoritative Internet Institute of the British University of Oxford. Titled Challenging Truth and Trust: A Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation, the study, curated by Samantha Bradshaw and Philip N. Howard, examines as many as 48 countries, among which, over great powers such as Usa and Russia, also Italy. The research estimates that “Governments and parties have spent over half a billion dollars in the research and development of psychological operations and manipulation of public opinion through social media” from 2010. In particular, these operations of media intoxication occur at the time of “elections, military crises and complex humanitarian crises”. It is particularly interesting that the study should have recourse to a military terminology when it enters into the details of the techniques used for these operations of manipulation of public opinion: for example, we talk about cyber-troops for Indicate the operators who are responsible for conducting these campaigns on-line propaganda, using computer propaganda (computational propaganda precisely), namely “the use of automated systems, algorithms and analysis of big-data” to affect On the lives of citizens. In the articulated deployment of these forces, social media are becoming a real spearhead as “they are particularly effective in reaching large masses of audiences, and, at the same time, customizing messages to strike so Targeted specific groups of individuals. ” The effects on the proper functioning of democratic systems are, apparently, devastating. In fact, the study states that “in emerging democracies as in the Western ones, sophisticated analyses and political manipulation of large masses of data are used to intoxicate the world of information, to promote skepticism and distrust, Polarizing the electorate and distorting the integrity of democratic processes. “

Information War and democracy

The study goes down into extremely interesting technical details, examining the various technologies and strategies of manipulation and intoxication (chat, automated accounts, automated commenting systems, code insertion to simulate human behavior ). All this through real apparatus that “require staff composed of a large number of collaborators and a wide availability of economic resources” for what is defined, repainting the terminologies of the Last Wars (first, second World Cup, the Cold War), the “Information warfare“. The study, which we attach here, is accompanied by an appendix that examines individual countries, in which we can find important indications on how, for example, the US government operates in European countries on the basis of the information war, Support of its military operations in the African and Middle Eastern area, just to give an example. Who has remembered the bodyguard of Lies (a curtain of lies) that Churchill boasted of having spread around the Allied operations during the Second World War and to the related techniques of deception that so much contributed to the Allied victory in Second World War and in the Cold War, it will find very familiar the analyses of this study, today simply updated to the Internet technology which, we do not forget it, is also the fruit of the researches carried out by a US military research agency (harp) In the midst of Cold War.

The story, then, continues…

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