Surveillance through technology is so pervasive, the collection and use of our data is so much more sophisticated. It’s totally covert. And people don’t realize what is going on.
It’s all about the emotions. They call it bio-psycho-social profiling. It takes your physical, mental and lifestyle attributes (mining much information freely given on sites like Facebook) and, using algorithms, works out how people work, how they react emotionally, and then targets them--usually with bots--with words they will react emotionally to, and a message the manipulator wants them to accept.
Many of the techniques were refined in Russia, and then exported everywhere else. These incredible propaganda tools were developed in an authoritarian regime, and have now moved into free market economies with an absolute absence of regulatory stoppers--vacuums. And nature deplores a vacuum, so you get a firestorm.
The Oxford Internet Institute says one third of all traffic on Twitter before the EU referendum was automated “bots” – accounts that are programmed to look like people, to act like people, and to change the conversation, to make topics trend. And they were all for Leave.
Before the US election, they were five-to-one in favor of Trump – many of them Russian. Yes, Russian bots. Last week they were identified in action in the Stoke by-election in England –
We’re not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become “Fake news!!!” But we’re almost there.
Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone has tweeted a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist. “World War III will be a guerrilla information war. With no divisions between military and civilian participation.”