Friday, December 29, 2017


I was dismissive of the power of social media to achieve victory over tyrants. Tyrants have harnessed the power of social media to crush dissent.

Years ago, I wasn't impressed by the power of social media:

Twitter is surely a great tool for overthrowing a regime. But in the end, high-drama meetups don't defeat despots--killing despots defeats despots. You have to take the next step and actually kill the king.

Twitter was a tool and not an inherently pro-freedom factor.

Behold what is possible when governments catch on to this tool--Facebook in this case--for their own goals:

Zuckerberg’s social network is a politically agnostic tool for its more than 2 billion users, he has said. But Facebook, it turns out, is no bystander in global politics. What he hasn’t said is that his company actively works with political parties and leaders including those who use the platform to stifle opposition—sometimes with the aid of “troll armies” that spread misinformation and extremist ideologies.

The initiative is run by a little-known Facebook global government and politics team that’s neutral in that it works with nearly anyone seeking or securing power.

So now every despot (or even just those who don't like opposition) can do what China is doing with its own resources to establish a Social Credit System (see the second and following updates):

In America, Twitter mobs ruthlessly enforce the changing standard of the Left by attacking dissenters. How will that work with the power of a dictatorial state apparatus behind it?

Be careful what you like and fail to like.

You'd reject a government's demand that you use a program that allows the government to track and classify you. But if you can play free games and post about your lunch, it's all cool?

Oh, and social media can be weaponized to attack foreign countries:

The records show how digital communications tools invented by U.S. companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, were instead exploited by the Kremlin-backed agents to promote autocracy and fear.

Although 203,000 troll tweets in 2016 was swamped by 200 billion actual tweets by real people each year. That's globally, but you get the idea of the relatively small splash the Russian trolls made.

Which like spending contrasts between Russia and domestic entities is probably an anti-body to being influenced by foreign trolling.

For now I don't think we are seriously threatened. But autocrats and enemies will get better at this.