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Interesting if accurate January 5, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This from John Naughton in the Observer is worth thinking about, reflecting upon the Trump victory he makes a fair point here:

So I think we can say that while the net may not have been a sufficient condition for Trump’s victory, it was definitely a necessary one. Most commentators, hypnotised by Trump’s mastery of Twitter and the prevalence of “fake news” on Facebook, attributed this entirely to social media. But again, this was an overly simplistic view, for it turns out that there was a deep structure underpinning most of what went on in social media and it needed some fairly intensive network analysis to reveal it.

But this is, in a way, more important again. Discussing research into the alt-right network of sites, and taking into account how informal all this is can the following possibly be correct?

What emerges from his work is a fascinating picture of what is effectively a rightwing propaganda machine built from more than 300 fake news sites and containing something like 1.3m hyperlink connections. Albright also mapped the hidden online trackers hosted by these sites. This is similar to the tracking ecosystem behind most commercial websites. But in the rightwing case, these trackers are coming away with information not about consumption preferences but about the possible political or ideological predilections of site visitors.

One’s first reaction to Professor Albright’s maps, after the sharp intake of breath at the scale and intensity of the online activity implied by them, is to ask what would the comparable leftwing ecosystem be like? His tentative answer is that it appears to be significantly smaller and much less interconnected than the “alt-right” ecosystem.

And Naughton makes a troubling point here:

Which is where the really interesting questions begin. Why is the political extreme right so established and dominant on the net? The answer is probably that its members have been effectively excluded from mainstream political discourse for a long time. So the internet, with its intrinsic permissiveness, was, for them, the only available option. (Indeed, it still is.) And they went for it.

I don’t know if this is correct, but it is difficult not to agree with the idea that there has been a slow steady dominance of parts of the internet by voices who in other circumstances would not be making news. Moreover that these have at times demonstrated some technological and political acuity in terms of shaping events. And however marginal they are, and however much they remain constrained simply by dint of being online rather than organising offline, they have been able to subtly and not so subtly shape conversations and dynamics. Their reach may exceed their grasp, almost certainly in fact. Trump is destined to disappoint them. But they seem to have a cohesiveness and a presence they lacked previously. That has to be a problem.

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Comments»

1. EWI - January 5, 2017

It’s not correct – if it was, then you’d see more prominence for the far-left as well. The difference lies in the vast funding going into ‘astroturf’ movements and fake academic institutes and think-tanks from the likes if the Kochs.

What you’re actually seeing here is a massive propaganda operation (likewise around AGW) which at its heart builds on the ultimate roots of the tobacco industry’s PR campaign from the middle of the last century, including many of the operatives involved.

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WorldbyStorm - January 5, 2017

There’s a lot in what you say re support from koch et all more broadly and certainly they helped the mood music, though they dislike the statism of Trump and the alt-right. But I’d imagine in the US the far left is rather weaker than the further right in its various forms.

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2. dublinstreams - January 5, 2017

I don’t see the right dominating anything perhaps trolling is louder and they get amplified more by the tv/press

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WorldbyStorm - January 5, 2017

That’s it precisely, its not dominance as control but rather an increasing voice, today’s Irish Times article in a way is testament to that. I think of it this way, ten years ago serious anti immigration and right political views were hardly enunciated openly other than on various boards or openly further right and still fairly maeginal parties, now that discourse is much more prominent and with little enough pushing back against it.

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3. FergusD - January 5, 2017

The MSM seems fascinated by the right, even the liberal MSM. Fascinated and frightened by it at the same time. Look at the obsession the BBC had with Farage, always shown in a pub with a pint. They now seem obsessed with the idea that the UK population only cares about immigration (which the right wing press is obsessed with of course) and so everything must be reduced to that. The BLP is asked “what are you goung to do about immigration” even by “liberal” journalists. It is weird, it is like they are hypnotised by the snake that is going to eat them!

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4. FergusD - January 5, 2017

Another thought. My eldest said once that the problem the left has is that its ideas run counter to just about all of the mainstream and are also “difficult” and actually require thought, even study. The right’s ideology just seems “obvious” and is amenable to sound bites, twitter (and also paranoia).

Apparently Mussolini once said something like “it only takes a bowl of pasta to make a fascist, but years of study to make a communist”.

The internet, or at least social media, seems almost ideal for the instant, gut reaction,”common sense” plus paranoia of the modern right.

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5. CL - January 5, 2017

Right-wing talk talk radio had been around for decades,-Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, and their many imitators. They have millions of listeners. The ground was well manured for Trump’s rise.
Besides Trump dominated every news cycle for more than a year. The MSM gave him an enormous amount of free publicity. And Trump is himself a successful TV performer. Naughton exaggerates.

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6. oliverbohs - January 5, 2017

Bear in mind that Trump won the least amount of votes for a Republican candidate since Dole in 1996. Democrats lost this one; he didn’t win it. And neither did the “alt right” whoever they are. The fascination by MSM with these types may increase if, say RTE think some homegrown equiv needs to be part of any and every “debate” for reasons of “balance”. It’s not sophisticated,it’s the basis of the Adrian Kennedy phoneshow and its ilk. Mark Steyn cd get syndication back in the paper of record yet

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dublinstreams - January 5, 2017

also most radio/tv producers and opinion section editors are the scum of the earth

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oliverbohs - January 5, 2017

I think that’s a generalisation that happens to be v true. I saw on a greetings card a quote from Einstein about common sense being the array of prejudices one has collected by age 18. Those need regular reinforcing, by people like Pat Kenny and other shills

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dublinstreams - January 7, 2017

although its not the scumness that annoys me its the laziness of them

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