An article in the New York Times focuses on a paper by Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz of the University of Warwick that made a startling assertion: “Wherever per-person Facebook use rose to one standard deviation above the national average, attacks on refugees increased by about 50 percent.” I don’t think they mean to imply that Facebook directly or intentionally encourages the negative traits that such attacks represent: more that it “isolates us from moderating voices or authority figures, siphons us into like-minded groups and, through its algorithm, promotes content that engages our base emotions.” Or to put it another way, our tendency to group ourselves into like-minded ‘bubbles’ inclines us to make distorted assumptions about how widespread our pet beliefs are, assumptions reinforced by ‘superposters’ who energetically promulgate those same beliefs.
While it’s not exactly the same thing,, being more focused on anonymity and pseudonymity, I was reminded of an older paper by Mich Kabay that has influenced my own thinking significantly over the years: Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Cyberspace: Deindividuation, Incivility and Lawlessness Versus Freedom and Privacy. The similarity is in the examination of the ways in which online behaviour can differ (for the worse) from behaviour in the real world. The difference is the way in which the Warwick study suggests that behaviour in the real world can be redirected into unacceptable channels by perceptions moulded by social media.
And here are a trio of further items about ‘anti-social media’….
A paper by Professor Douglas C. Schmidt on Google Data Collection makes clear just how much information Google is collecting about its users and the purposes for which it can be used. It is … disquieting …
Rebecca Hill for The Register: Bloke hurls sueball over Google’s ‘is it off yet?’ location data slurping – “…a lawsuit has accused the search-cum-ads biz of unlawfully invading users’ privates and intentionally complicating the opt-out process…after last week’s Associated Press probe into location data slurping.”
Lisa Vaas for Sophos: Social networks to be fined for hosting terrorist content – “On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that the EC’s going to follow through on threats to fine companies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for not deleting flagged content post-haste.”