I had an old blog years ago that I’m happy in a lot of respects is no longer online. It was fun while it lasted, but some things make better memories.
One such memory I recently tracked down, and reading it thirteen years later, it sounds quite a lot like current events swirling around so-called ‘Russian meddling’, ‘troll factories’ and fake news.
I can really imagine having a team of like 5 people working for a PR company who spend like 40+ hours a week writing blog posts. Perhaps each person would distribute their entries over like 10 different fictional blogger identities. They could write on things like news stories, political agendas, different products, all kinds of crap. Each of their fictional blogger identities could talk about roughly the same set of topics, but from a slightly different perspective – but each retaining whatever essential core elements they are trying to describe. I imagine it would bre pretty effective too, that 50 reasonably well-written and frequently-updated blogs would have a fairly wide audience and impact on an audience, which would expand outward in a ripple effect, especially if they were aggressively cross-commenting on real people’s blogs as well.
[…] blogs are not constrained by facts, so the potential to unleash distorted information into the bloodstream of the America people is enormous. And I also forgot to mention that you could also rake in web-ad revenues while you’re doing all this.
— 3 Nov. 2004
So if I was some kind of weird PR company or a government agency trying to influence public opinion, I would totally set up some kind of network of conspiracy theorists, complete with websites, lectures, email discussion lists, books, videos, you name it. I would then study the shit out of the people who were attracted to it. I would gather demographic data, and I would analyze their thought processes and emotional responses. I would then use this information to engineer better-designed news stories, press releases, publicity stunts, and the like. Ones which would be more hack-proof. Simultaneously to studying them, I would also flood the people I was studying with vast amounts of erroneous data to sift through in order to distract them from the more important and more straightforward cultural trends and events that are going on.
– 13 November 2004
What can I say…