Rarely I post here something not directly coming from my personal inspiration, and surely I don’t need any confirmation to all I’m meditating since years, but I find this article and links very interesting for all those ones who usually don’t bother meditating on the “social” web-thing.
Personally, I think that staying anonymous is the only right way to exist on the web (SpiresVortex is not a FAKE but just my REAL “artistic” name), it depends on what you want to do here … without falling, on the other hand, on the easy self-mind-tricking narcissism.
But being genuine here like in the present concrete life of public relations is not easy, anyway.
I invite you to click on the link of the author to read the whole story.
It wasn’t a million years ago that Marshall McLuhan was able to imagine the media as the benign source of a new togetherness: a place where ‘psychic communal integration’ might occur. But our experience of the internet is tangled with our sense of what its abusers are making of it. The technology is now a surveillance machine, a lying tool, a handheld marketing device, a corporate pinboard, a global platform for ideologues and zealots, as well as a handy life-enhancer. If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest bring people together, they also complicate our notion of what a person is, and it’s very different from former notions of reality and privacy.
Facebook has 864 million daily users, of whom at least 67 million are believed by the company to be fake. There are more social media ghosts, more people being second people, or living an invented life as doppelgängers, than there are citizens of the UK.
Weavrs are ‘personality-based social-web robots’ that ‘publicly blog about how they feel, where they go and what they experience’. An article by Olivia Solon in Wired magazine questioned the guys behind it. ‘The team … won’t reveal exactly how the Weavrs algorithm works – referring to it as their black box,’ Solon wrote, ‘but say they create personalities from social data that then “blog themselves into existence”.’ It’s taken for granted in these circles that digital robots are becoming a tool of big business; in China, for instance, Weavrs are used to collect data on young people and their preferences. In the old days researchers would speak to individuals, but nowadays the invented person, the digividual, is more reliable when it comes to showing what people want.
There are hundreds of fake stories, where ‘sock-puppet’ accounts on Facebook and elsewhere have allowed a ‘person’ – sometimes a whole ‘family’ – to put together a life that’s much bigger than the real one. The Dirr family from Ohio solicited sympathy and dollars for years after losing loved ones to cancer – a small village of more than seventy invented profiles shored up the lie. It was all the work of a 22-year-old medical student, Emily Dirr, who’d been inventing her world since she was 11. Her life was a reality show that she produced, cast, directed, starred in, and broadcast to the world under a pile of aliases that felt entirely real and moving to a large group of devoted followers.
Valuable fake identities are being constructed and deployed in every area of life, and often they are simulacra of their maker’s own identity. It emerged last year, in a book called Murdoch’s World by David Folkenflik, that public relations staffers at Fox News Channel were serially creating dummy accounts to plant ‘Fox-friendly’ reactions to critical blog postings. One ex-staffer spoke of more than a hundred false accounts set up for this purpose, and said they’d covered their tracks by the use of different computers and untraceable broadband connections.
Far from being the creations of stoned computer nerds, fake online identities had long since become a standard feature of big business espionage, police investigations, government surveillance, marketing and public relations. Democracy itself – with its basic notion of one individual and one vote – is far from being an innocent notion in the age of ‘astroturfing’, when whole movements of opinion can be manufactured in an instant, drummed up by the keyboard-savvy, who harvest ‘names’ from social media to support their cause or denounce someone else’s.
Edward Snowden opened a door on state-sponsored snooping on private lives, but also, more subtly, he revealed the many ways private life has given itself over to the dark arts of fabrication. A dirty tricks document produced by a secret unit at GCHQ called JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group) was called ‘The Art of Deception: Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations’. JTRIG described itself as ‘using online techniques to make something happen in the real or the cyber world’. Making ‘something happen’ very often means invading someone’s Facebook account and changing the photographs, or mobilising the social network to ridicule them. A ‘fake flag operation’ for example involves posting material on the internet under a false identity with the aim of damaging a reputation. The damage comes under one of two headings: ‘Dissimulation – Hide the Real’ and ‘Simulation – Show the False’. In other words, exploit the porousness of the border between the real and the imagined, as if some Borgesian nightmare had taken over, feasting on a general uncertainty about who exists and who doesn’t. The world, according to GCHQ (and not only GCHQ), is now a zone of conjuring. ‘We want to build Cyber Magicians,’ the secret report tells its secret readers.