Media & Market Matters:
- Paul Krugman on how the affordability crisis worsened due to the increasingly popular remote working trend.
- Elon agrees to buy Twitter in line with original terms, but there is a lot of intrigue behind the scenes.
Nobody can ever be sure about what the billionaire rocket man is really up to. But something doesn’t feel right here. The Blind Spot thinks this is far from the end of the story.
In the last 48 hours Elon, by agreeing to proceed with the deal, has seemingly capitulated on the Twitter bot issue that underpinned his argument for walking away. At the same, however, he has posted one of the most controversial and provocative Twitter polls of all time on the platform related to the war in Ukraine. Given the stakes this, some say, was naturally going to lure the world’s most nefarious and politically charged bot networks.
Was the poll a classic internet security honey pot? Was it designed to lure the bots so as to figure out their heritage and number?
Potentially related but also forgotten about is the India connection to the whole sorry saga. Elon has in the past shown great interest in Twitter’s legal suits in the country. In India, however, the situation is entirely inverted.
The free speech advocate seems far more aligned with the Modi government’s attempt to regulate Twitter (a move that supposedly involved the shutdown of government critical accounts) than in rallying against censorship. Twitter on the other hand is standing up for free speech and saying it would rather shut up shop than operate under those conditions.
Given the social media platform’s happiness to toe the line with government censorship in other Western jurisdictions this seems at best inconsistent and at worst imperialist (we trust our democracies but not yours).
So are things really what they seem here? Or is the India issue actually about something else? Notably: bot farms – many of which will be located in places like Bangalore.
Consider the following related hypothetical – which is entirely speculative and not based on any proof or evidence. If everything from global democracy to journalistic investigation (Dan McCrum ahem) is under siege because of the malign and inauthentic influence of super powers (both state and non-state) engaged in troll warfare – how big a deal would be finding and neutralizing the biggest of these online troll army bases?
One man’s weaponised bot troll is another man’s weaponised bot freedom fighter.
Not only are these gun for hire hyper-scaled troll farms likely to be massive profit spinners for their owners – they’re likely to be available to rent to almost anyone. State actors, corporates, lobbying groups or even political parties and very rich private individuals.
In the modern internet age political power is intimately connected to sentiment online. Bad Twitter opinion – a la the new manifestation of mob rule – has the power to silence critics and authentic voices through gaslighting and intimidation. These strategies are usually directed at the blue check mark brigades who dominate authentic activity on the platform.
Media observer Noam Chomsky once noted that an effective propaganda model, doesn’t need to induce “the consent” of the entire population. It needs only to influence the smaller demographic of elite middle-class “educated” voters who have the capacity to swing the balance of public opinion.
That means whoever controls the bots that can influence the blue-check-mark brigade, holds the potential keys to the kingdom.
Annihilating the gun-for-hire troll farms is potentially a bigger strike against those trying stifle democracy than taking out the Nordstream pipeline.
As always South Park said it best.-IK
- McKinsey is charged with corruption in relation to its work with the South African state-owned freight rail and port operator.
- Japanese gaming company Sega has announced it will launch its first blockchain game, which will include the tokenisation of in-game assets.
- Izabella ponders whether now is the time to start buying boats with bitcoin?
- N.Y.U organic chemistry students in danger of failing created an online petition to get the professor responsible fired.
Based on my recent university experience, students who claim their workload is far too heavy are typically the same students who are chronically underperforming, whether that is because of their lack of cleverness, organisation, intelligence, or aptitude in a certain subject.
UCL Mechanical Engineering, for instance, is a course widely complained about by its students as being too difficult. Many, as a result, take part in something of a ‘mafia’ that trades examination and assignment information. I was persuaded by these students’ protests for a long time, even considering their cheating somewhat justifiable.
That is until I met two (non-genius) individuals who nailed every assignment and exam with solid firsts thanks to solid studying habits, while still maintaining a healthy social life and staying clear of the ‘mafia’ system.
It became clear to me then that the problem fueling all these protests wasn’t down to bad professors, or woke students, but of a society pushing individuals to partake in courses their capabilities are not well suited to. – DGG
- EU lawmakers require all new smartphones, tablets, and cameras to use the USB-C charger standard from 2024.
- Bill Gates claims that political polarisation could mean America is heading for a ‘civil war’ that could ‘bring it all to an end’.
- Matteo Renzi defends Meloni on CNN against claims she is a ‘danger to Italian democracy’, calling claims her victory represents a fascist revival as ‘absolutely fake news.’
- Poland announces the completion of a high border wall between themselves and Belarus, ostensibly to “stop Lukashenko from using migrants as a tool for hybrid warfare.”
- Yet another coup takes place in Burkina Faso.
Following the coup, Burkina Faso’s deposed military chief agreed to step down to avoid further confrontations.
Onlookers may have been confused by a large number of Russian flags among demonstrators in favour of the coup.
While it is true that Wagner Group and Russia generally holds increasing influence in the country, the Blind Spot prefers to see it all through the lens of Russia’s growing influence within the context of a regional backlash against French colonial policy.
The fact that France continues to carry out a very traditionally colonialist policy in West Africa has abruptly entered the Western political stage following comments from Georgia Meloni, as she called France “disgusting” for “continuing to exploit Africa” with continued political, economic, and military dominance.
We will have more on France’s West African policy shortly. – DGG
From the “Fake News” Zone:
- Jeffrey Sachs states he believes that the United States, and perhaps Poland, was behind the Nord Stream pipeline explosion.
- The U.S. Army’s first openly transgender officer and his wife were indicted for offering an undercover FBI agent, posing as a Russia-connected individual, medical records from Fort Bragg.
- The New Yorker asks if the West has crossed the Rubicon; “what if we were already fighting the third world war with Russia”.
- During the Second World War, the British created a secret munitions factory underneath the British Parliament.
- Letter regarding a UFO sighting as sent to Thomas Jefferson in 1813.