Since 2016, the national security establishment has tried to reframe mass disaffection with mainstream politics as the outcome of foreign meddling. But disinformation isn’t the cause of our political malaise, and fighting it won’t get us out of it.
@Gaywallet
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A rather densely worded article which makes some good points, but I don’t really know many people who think of disinfo in the way the author is framing it. Perhaps I haven’t dived in very deeply on how people view disinformation - my take on it is that while there are major interests out there (such as the mentioned Russian troll farms) it’s the day to day misinfo that’s most troubling to me. It’s the fact that shitty articles get re-shared by people who don’t take two seconds to question the information… they look at the article title and go “why yes, the transgenders are ruining sports” and spread along the message. Sure, the person behind said article might be intentionally sharing this to groups on facebook which they know are full of the kind of people who do this, but I don’t see the malicious actors as the source of the problem, but the shoddy education system which allows so many people to buy into bad journalism like this. The people resharing without a thought are how we ended up with Donald Trump, and I think we would have ended up with him even if they weren’t seeded with disinformation because the quality or the quantity doesn’t matter here, only the resonance of the message. They used to share blog posts and commentaries which avoided fact and talked about feeling, disinfo is not a new concept, it’s just happening in a new medium and has a new face.

@Whom
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I don’t think the title is particularly great and I probably should’ve changed it for this post. I think the issue that they’re addressing here is that the task of addressing disinformation and framing it as the primary problem behind modern issues plays into the hands of different groups of powerful people. The liberal cry that everything they don’t like is Russian interference, that every bit of political activism or deviation from the norm in any direction is the result of a proxy war between Russia and/or China and the rest of us. People desperately looking for tech CEOs to address disinformation by embracing centralized arbiters of truth. That kind of thing that you hear a lot from (often older) American liberals who reject progressives and the left about as much as they do the far right. That attitude can be harmful and lead to a kind of thinking where no one who deviates from the center actually means what they say and that they’re just trying to spread information on the behalf of some Evil party like Russia:

There has been an attempt to understand every instantiation of populism and social tumult as a question of disinformation. Just how far this goes was made clear when Susan Rice invoked Russian meddling in the context of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protest movement. The resulting vision of the world is one in which movements are seen as pseudo-actors subservient to an underlying system of information war. By the same token, the disinfo technocrats can imagine themselves as an indispensable corps of experts who “promote objective fact as the basis for democratic governance worldwide”

The article could’ve gone further to specify what they’re addressing though. I don’t think they’re trying to get into the stuff that you’re talking about.

@Gaywallet
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The liberal cry that everything they don’t like is Russian interference, that every bit of political activism or deviation from the norm in any direction is the result of a proxy war between Russia and/or China and the rest of us.

Huh, do people really say this? I haven’t experienced this online, but yea, I can get why that’s just absurd and harmful.

People desperately looking for tech CEOs to address disinformation by embracing centralized arbiters of truth.

I mean, I think they’re mostly just asking for them to actually remove content that is reported for being misinformation because the amount of it that was going around the last two major elections has been quite a bit. But again, perhaps I may not be running in the right social circles to see how this is framed.

@Whom
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Yeah, I think it’s a matter of what you’re seeing being different from the author. I certainly don’t see much of this in my age range and communities around my interests, but when I step into spaces dominated by older centrist liberals, I see it a lot.

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