Who can influence your decisions?
In this clip, Brynolf & Ljung control what choices Hoda and Adi are going to make. Foreign powers can use false and deliberately deceptive information to try to influence your opinions and decisions. How easy is it to influence you?
Those who want to spread false and deceptive information have a wide array of methods and tools at their disposal. Oftentimes many different tools are combined, to strengthen the effect.
Two common methods for spread false and deceptive information are:
Strategic narratives: Used to create a story around a certain event, topic, or organization. The story can be positive, negative, or deliberately vague.
Tailoring to a target audience: Focusing on certain parts of a population, be that large groups based on demographics, or individuals, a foreign power can exploit specific weaknesses or behavioral patterns to try to exert influence.
Viral content has sometimes been boosted using bots. A bot (from the word ‘robot’) is a computer program that performs automated tasks, such as spreading information on social media. A bot can be used to reinforce a certain message by spamming forums and comments sections, liking and sharing posts on social media, or as part of a cyberattack.
- Profile picture: Bots often steal pictures from other accounts, or lack a profile picture completely. Do a reverse image search to determine the validity.
- Activity: Many bots are very active users. Watch out for accounts that make a suspiciously high amount of posts per day.
- Username: Most bots use randomized names.
- Account created: Accounts used by bots are often created directly before being used. Older accounts may be used occasionally, but with all the previous posts deleted. This creates a big gap between the creation date and the first post.
- Language: Automated translations are common among bot accounts. This leads to obvious grammatical errors and incoherent sentences.
- Account bio: Bots usually lack personal information in their account bio, or use falsified information.
- Interaction: Take a close look at which accounts are interacted with. Bots often work together to maximize the spread of a message, and usually only follow other bot accounts.
- Whataboutism: Shifting the focus in a discussion by bringing up a different topic that has received less attention, but is ultimately irrelevant to the current issue.
- Strawman: Falsely accusing a person of having a certain opinion, and then arguing against that opinion instead of recognizing their real stance on the issue.
- Personal attacks (ad hominem): Attacking, discrediting, or ridiculing, a person making an argument, instead of the argument itself. Personal attacks serve to silence, hinder, or deter people from joining the discussion.