Objectives and intentions of various actors

Actors who seed critical content, pursue different objectives and intentions.

  1. Regime-oriented countries - Apply censorship through soft methods of repression to influence or control the political sentiment within the population. If individuals get the possibility of opposition to organise themselves with other actors, this can lead to a potential threat to existing power structures - see Chapter 18.3 - Initial situation in autocratic systems.

  2. Terrorist groups - Creation of fear and insecurity among people to destabilise democratic and developed social structures. The impact of extremism is not limited to the region in which a conflict takes place, but transcends every country border. A major goal of these actors is to recruit new followers and soldiers to wage war against humanity.

  3. Populism - For several years now, populism has also been observed in pro-democratic societies with a well developed system of democratic values and morals. A growing proportion of the population takes part in anonymised or covert hate speech and the spread or dispersion of false information.

The common denominator is to use a powerful instrument to achieve maximum impact and attention to the ideology pursued among the target audience.

People involved in these different actions or movements often share a common cultural, political or social sentiment or dissatisfaction.

// TODO: Refactor misplaced here

The majority of the average user often does not recognise the far-reaching effect of the methods used in social media, which are caused by an interaction (rating or comment) with existing content. The user fails to acknowledge that a simple interaction with racist or xenophobic content contaminates his own social structure as depicted in the digital world in such a way that existing friendships or relationships are cancelled. This leads to an entry into social isolation. Populist groups abuse this situation in order to use the values and opinions of those affected to promote their own ideology - see Chapter 18.2 - Initial situation in democratic entities.

The present paper does not discuss the motivation or objectives of the actors in detail. A reader who is particularly interested in this argumentation is referred to the concluding chapter of the present paper. The table included in this chapter contains references to several external publications that have been prepared in addition to this paper.

Common agenda of the actors

The common agenda of these actors is to maximise the reach of their own campaigns that convey critical content. In order to achieve the largest distribution radius in the social fabric, actors apply several strategies or rather distribution waves.

Initial publication / channeled distribution

The actor (author) who is primarily responsible for the creation and distribution of the content. Does the author have an extensive community that subscribes to the content or news channel, the following intermediate step is not mandatory - a repeated publication increases the degree of distribution without the author's intervention. If the accessible community comprises only a very small number of participants, the author follows the channelled distribution to position the content into the visible field of a larger community. The author tries to propose the content in established news channels in which the community corresponds to the identical or similar thematic area assigned to the content. The author of the content reaches a so-called 1st level follower due to matching interests.

Repeated publication

The actor involved in a community shows interest in the content and carries out a rating (interaction) of the content. Based on the subsequent description, each participant involved in the community who performs an interaction with the content acts as a multiplier.

  1. Each participant in a group, who has a joint interest in the author's content, is directly linked to the author (1st level follower).

  2. Each participant in this group maintains a considerable network of contacts or social structure, which includes a wide variety of actors such as family, friends and colleagues.

    On average, each user has 342 contacts in the most popular social network "Facebook".

    From the author's perspective, any contact that is not directly related to the author is called an n-level follower. Contacts within the social structure of the 1st level follower are therefore called 2nd level followers from the author's perspective. The content published by the author and the field of vision of the 2nd level follower are only one interaction step apart.

  3. Several actors who perceive the author's content via a subscription (1st level followers) interact inadvertently or consciously with the content published by the author.

    If a member of the 1st level follower group interacts with the author's (critical) content, the platform operator relays a signal to the contacts involved within the social structure (2nd level follower).

  4. This signalling objective is to attract the attention of the participants involved in the social structure by pointing out activities or reactions to content or persons that may coincide with their individual interests.

// TODO Refactor

Innerhalb einer Social-Media Anwendung diese Art wird diese Signalisierung als Feedback-Loop bezeichnet und ist explizit darauf ausgerichtet, eine virale Verteilung von Inhalten zu erreichen. Die virale Distribution von Inhalten wird erreicht, indem der Inhalt von Anfang an von unabhängigen Teilnehmern wahrgenommen wird und durch das Interesse dieser in das soziale Gefüge dieser eintritt und weiter propagiert wird. Die virale Verbreitung eines Inhalts wird beim 1st level Follower eingeleitet und durch die erhebliche Anzahl an Teilnehmern verstärkt, welche als 2nd level Follower wirken.

Indirect Re-Distribution

The actor tries to establish a positive reputation from a large user base by initially distributing only content with high integrity and truthfulness. The actor progressively creates several user profiles. The actor gradually changes his behavior, which kind of content is published via his user profiles. Initially, uncritical content is published, but this content is increasingly mixed with critical content.

Semi- or fully automated procedures are used to establish isolated or independent distribution vectors that the average user follows erroneously. The actor uses this sort of technology, such as social bots, to link the user profiles, which are controlled by the actor, with the aim of establishing a covert transit for the distribution of content.

The average user follows the activity of these user profiles, but is not directly able to determine the motivation of an author due to the unknown or anonymous indication of the source. Multiple user profiles delegate content in a way that leads to artificial structures that gradually hide the identity and affect of the author.

A typical feature of these redistribution strategies is the hyperactivity of engagement. The following distribution strategies illustrate this type of behavior.

  1. Semi-autonomous distribution - executed by humans interacting with similar content. This activity is repeated at an unusually high frequency for a human being.

  2. Fully autonomous distribution - performed by a software-based technology that creates an activity on the identical or similar content by automating the user interaction. The ability of a machine to perform simple tasks in a repetitive manner surpasses the ability of humans for a long time.

These parameters are used in the project to measure the reputation of an identity. Conversely, a negative reputation reduces the distribution radius in order to counteract the controlled and targeted distribution of critical content.

Direct Re-Distribution

The actor who carries out a journalistic work takes up the misinformation and tries to correct it in the best case. The result is distributed via everyday media formats such as television, radio or newspapers to the user who is not actively participating in digital media formats such as social media.

Unfortunately there are several variants of editorial orientation or tendency (bias), including sensational journalism. Sensational journalism aims to reach the widest possible readership by means of the aspects described below.

Sensational journalism is a kind of editorial prejudice that works specifically with assumptions, overstatements and half-truths. The subjects of sensational journalism can originate from virtually any area.

Sensational journalism does not fulfil the task of objective information transfer, but specifically serves prejudices. The genre often operates on the verge of slander and does not stop at defaming individuals, groups or organisations. For this reason, sensational journalism is perceived by many journalists as dubious and irreverent and is rejected.

The human consciousness reacts to content that distinguishes itself from the background noise of the media. The aim of sensational journalism is to awake the reader's greed for sensation.

In the context of the controlled and targeted distribution or scattering of critical content, this type of journalism enables a further distribution path. Often popular and trendy content from social media platforms is picked up to influence the perception of people who essentially ignore this type of digital technology. A seamless distribution chain for critical content is created, which covers all areas of people's lives, by combining the online with the offline world.

This kind of journalism and daily reporting that is continuously repeated in different media promotes the uncertainty of the individual.

Simplified and blunt argumentation fuels uncertainty in the individual; the basic sentiment of the individual is influenced even in developed societies.