Originally published September 29 2015
How 'majority illusion' is engineered on social networks to push leftist agendas
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Does it sometimes seem like there are more homosexuals in the world than you actually thought? Or more white supremacists? Or that more people support a political or social position than you thought possible — or logical? Or that all Christians are bigots and all Muslims are terrorists?
You're not alone. Millions of people all over the world have had similar thoughts and observations. As it turns out, there is a reason for such misconceptions — our perception is being purposely manipulated in order to promote certain agendas, according to recently released research.
"One of the curious things about social networks is the way that some messages, pictures, or ideas can spread like wildfire while others that seem just as catchy or interesting barely register at all. The content itself cannot be the source of this difference. Instead, there must be some property of the network that changes to allow some ideas to spread but not others," reports Technology Review.
"Today, we get an insight into why this happens thanks to the work of Kristina Lerman and pals at the University of Southern California. These people have discovered an extraordinary illusion associated with social networks which can play tricks on the mind and explain everything from why some ideas become popular quickly to how risky or antisocial behavior can spread so easily."
The "majority paradox"Scientists who study social networks have long known about their paradoxical nature. The most notable example is the friendship paradox — on average, your friends will always have more friends than you.
This phenomenon occurs because distribution of friends on popular social network platforms tend to follow a power law, of sorts. While some people have smaller numbers of friends, others have a great many and so the average is skewed purposely.
Consider this analogy, says Technology Review (TR): "Measure the height of all your friends and you'll find that the average is about 170 centimeters. If you're male, your friends, on average, will be about as tall as you are. In fact, the mathematical notion of 'average' is a fine way to demonstrate the nature of this particular data."
However, what if one of your friends was much taller than you? This person would skew the average of all your friends dramatically, and that would make your friends taller then you, on average. So in this case, "average" is not a good way in which to capture the data set.
This is the same situation that takes place in social networks, TR reported, but not just for numbers of friends. On average, your co-authors will be cited more than you and the people you follow on Twitter will post more often, and so forth.
Lerman and her team have now discovered a related illogicality — a phenomenon they call the majority illusion. This is when an individual can observe a behavior or quality in most of his or her friends, though it is rare in the network as a whole — "the local impression that a specific attribute is common when the global truth is entirely different," TR reported.
Manipulating the massesThe reality is, the U.S. government — via the military and various government spy agencies and domestic bureaus — have long used social media platforms to manipulate public opinion.
In July 2014, the UK's The Guardian newspaper reported that the U.S. military's advanced research division, DARPA, had recorded and analyzed the activities of users on Twitter and other social media, with an eye towards influencing opinions.
In addition, as The Guardian reported in a separate story, researchers at Facebook adjusted news feeds to control or manipulate users' emotions.
In June 2014, Facebook "published details of a vast experiment in which it manipulated information posted on 689,000 users' home pages and found it could make people feel more positive or negative through a process of "emotional contagion," The Guardian reported.
It should really come as no surprise, however, that the powers that be want to control the minds of the masses. Propaganda has been used as a political tool for centuries. It's really just ironic and disturbing to see this technique employed by an allegedly benevolent government that claims to represent "individual freedom" and "personal liberty."
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