Grado de dificultad: 3 (Por el idioma)

Columnista: Roberto

Our International Section is always an opportunity to pay attention to something happening “away” that could very well be affecting us. It’s also a way to exorcise some daemons…

Political and cyberwarfare

A conspiracy for real

The main notice in USA (or at least one of them) is about the manipulation of Social Media performed by a foreign country (AKA a Russian Government Faction), to create a country-scale psychotic crisis.

Everyone is stunned to discover that a well-organized team really altered the result of the presidential election.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/16/new-report-russian-disinformation-prepared-senate-shows-operations-scale-sweep/?utm_term=.9a26c52f0ab7

Beyond the strict frame of politics and cyberwar, it shows a very damning fact: 21st century is a time of manipulations and of lies, performed continuously.

How did the social media manipulation worked?

Good question. The first part is called “phishing”. We talked of it a few times:

http://tecnologiamediaynerdos.com/professionals/tmn-y-los-piratas/

http://tecnologiamediaynerdos.com/dummies/consejos-contra-el-phishing/

No informatics skills are required. It is mainly about psychological “talents” – AKA scamming – to trick people in believing something unreal. It also means a thorough and careful behavioral analysis on a whole country.

Then, they targeted the weak side of social media organizations: greed. To succeed in their project, they didn’t even have to dig deep: they were offered the weapons they needed, at each step.

The psychological effects are more interesting:

  • Social Media helped in covering up the track, when they discovered what happened.
  • Lawmakers also were very effective in bullying each other, together with their owners donators
  • Those who were tricked were immediately trapped in an intricate network of denials, and will continue to lie to themselves in a self-destructive way.

To sum it up in a few words, it worked perfectly, beyond any expectation, and will continue generating ripples for decades.

A broader issue

This is not the only case

Similar manipulations occurred in Great Britain, in Italy, in Austria, Brazil, Colombia, several countries in Central Europe, France. They were not mandatorily from the same origin, but, yes, using the same methods (AKA social networks).

In the American case, infecting vectors where Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and main Email platforms (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail).

This will become the playbook of all manipulation campaigns (starting now).

Is it so easy?

The short answer is “Yes, definitively!”, because of what we are, and what we became.

As I use to say, “I was born in a modern world”, one with many flaws, but where science and technology was a pillar of undisputed truth, a beacon light.

That was in last century, what they call now the “midcentury faith in engineering”, very old fashion indeed.

Today, people ask to Dr Google, not their MD. Who can blame them? Doctors are set aside in an administrative and business system. We don’t blame them, but they are wrong.

Today, a hospital is not about charity, it’s a business. But, hey, if someone dies, you, doctors are still to blame, not the financial team. We see that often, at home.

We let this happen, meaning that we accepted that.

What about us, scientists and engineers

Scientists and engineers let this happen too. The gap between normal people and us kept opening wider and wider. Don’t wonder why “The Big Bang Theory” is such a big hit. This is how people see us.

Knowing that some people consider me as some sort of Sheldon (or any of these lost boys and girls) is simply unbearable to me.

And this is not the worse.

Social Media are not about technology anymore, they are about money, the money they earn selling our lives. Can you realize how much contempt this means? And who are Social Media? Engineers, scientists, highly ranked academics.

Yes, Mr Z is a bigot and a pharisee. It’s easy to see it. Is he alone? Of course not. I’m not even talking of high executives: many would love to work at Facebook, or Google, Apple or Microsoft (or Claro/Movistar/Tigo/Ecopetrol, here).

Exorcise some daemons (or is it spelled demons?) will certainly be very complicated. Let’s start with knowing them, it will be a first step… Toward the others.

Manipulation is one of them.