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  • Hubert Marlin

Internet and the psychological manipulation in polls


According to Euripides ignorance combined with wealth would be the worst scourge. Also, the belief in the omnipotence of science is iterative to the facts of modern life, and remains the thing best used by elites who like to avail themselves of knowledge to dominate the laypersons. Ignorance in its nominative, non-derogatory sense is a formidable weapon in the hands of politicians and their scientific associates, in what it is increasingly appropriate to call capitalist dictatorships. As the British economist Kenneth Boulding put it: "A world of invisible dictatorship is conceivable, always using forms of democratic government." The association between the technological oligarchy and the political elite has dramatically changed the face of politics in the northern hemisphere, and the struggle between castes, using the most unsuspected social engineering techniques, which are deeply rooted in the neuromarketing that involves the psychological manipulation of crowds. The worlds envisioned by English writers Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932), and George Orwell 1984 (1949) have seen some of their predictions about methods attempting to control behavior and thought, come to fruition. It will never be stated enough that, who controls the mind control the body.

By using media advertising, some marketing companies are able to generate subliminal stimuli, that are below an individual's conscious perception threshold by scrolling through images, or masked audio messages, in audio-visual programs. A 2012 study on functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) studies shows that subliminal stimuli activate specific regions of the brain, even if participants are not aware. Visual stimuli can be quickly flashed

before a person can treat them, or blinked and then masked, interrupting the total processing or assimilation of information by the brain. .The audio stimuli can be played in volumes audible or hidden by other stimuli. However, the use of stimuli, if it modifies the behavior of those who are subject to it, is not decisive in the specific choice of a product, so if a subliminal image encouraging thirst is received by the individuals, it is likely that the latter would react by seeking the drink of their preference. This implies that even after receiving a subliminal image of a soda can of a targeted brand, it would be possible according to the latest studies that individuals stimulated by stimuli to drink, will rather prefer to drink water, tea or even alcohol, according to their desire, or food discipline. Since the first attempts at neuromarketing seemed to confirm the habits and behavior of individuals, the new neuromarketing techniques have focused on the persistent habits of individuals to manipulate them. Since, it has proved more difficult to change the nature of people; the history and experience of individuals, giving them a certain psychological profile; it was normal that social scientists thought of using this nature, adding elements that could influence it to reach their expected goals, in what the experts call subliminal stimulation, by psychography. In 1958, motivated by public concern over a New Jersey theater supposed to conceal messages in a movie to increase ice cream sales, the National Association of Broadcasters - the association that sets the standards for American television, changed its code to prohibit the use of subliminal messages in broadcasting. In 1974, the Federal Communications Commission thought that the use of such messages was "contrary to the public interest". A bill to ban subliminal messages was also introduced in the US Congress, but was never passed. The United Kingdom and Australia have strict laws prohibiting them. In 1960, the campaign manager of John F. Kennedy. His brother, Robert Kennedy, hired one of the first data analysis companies, the Simulmatics Corporation, to use focus groups and voter surveys to dispel public prejudice The science of victory, would be a science that would produce rational and quantifiable strategies to reach potential voters and turn them into fervent supporters. This goal, which was simply ambitious at the time, has since become a multibillion-dollar industry, which Cambridge Analytica echoed, in what some people have been quick to call the manipulation of electoral votes in the US presidential election of 2016. Cambridge Analytica had a five-month contract with the Trump campaign in 2016. The company would have received nearly $ 6 million, for its good and loyal services, in a scandal that splashed Facebook. Cambridge Analytica had purchased Facebook user data for more than $ 800,000 from Global Science Research (GSR), a company specially created to access the accounts of anyone who had clicked on the GSR app, which was included in the bundle of “free services” offered by Facebook.At the end of the 1950s, American journalist Vance Packard described a type of "strange and rather exotic" influence that was developing rapidly in the United States and was, in a way, more threatening than the fictitious types of control, represented in novels. According to Packard, American business leaders and politicians were beginning to use subtle and, in many cases, totally undetectable methods to change people's thinking, emotions, and behaviors based on the knowledge of psychiatry and social sciences.Beyond the subliminal stimulation, which the American journalist Vance Packard quotes in his 1959 book The Hidden Persuaders, in an essay published in 1964, entitled The Naked Society, Packard makes a jump in the future, and rebels against what would become with the arrival of the internet 30 years later, a blatant invasion of privacy by the collection of individual data. Packard criticized the unfettered use of private information by advertisers to create marketing programs. He castigated what Lyndon B. Johnson had disguised under the innocent terms, of great social initiative, the proposed national databank which should rather serve the multinationals who would exploit private information to create advertising campaigns. By gaining access to private data, with the help of social sciences, marketers quickly learned to play with the insecurities, weaknesses, unconscious fears, feelings of aggression, and sexual desires of people to influence their thoughts, their emotions, and behaviors, without them realizing that they were being manipulated.Nowadays the 3 big giants in the field of new technologies Google, Facebook, and Apple do not deprive themselves of these methods to get what they want from the global populace, because while they collect the individual data of their billions subscribers or customers, they store them, and eventually analyze them and use them for their own mercantile interests in their advertising campaigns, they do not hesitate to sell them purely and simply to other companies. Also, the maxim that if a product is free for the public like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Hangouts ... It means it is the public who in fact is the product of consumption, is checked with acuity. The cybernetic activity of billions of Internet addicts who use these "free" platforms is an immeasurable windfall of data collected free of charge. Google for example Decide which web pages to include in the results of its search engine, and how to rank them. This simple selection is one of the best kept secrets in the world. In fact, this ordered list is so good that about 50% of clicks of users go to the first two results listed, and more than 90% of the clicks to the 10 elements listed on the first page of the results. Few people view other results pages, even if they are often in the thousands, which means they probably contain a lot of useful information. As Internet users read higher ranked articles much more easily, companies now spend billions of dollars each year trying to deceive Google's search algorithm. The computer program that allows them to select and rank; in order to give them a significant advantage over their competitor. Winning a notch can mean the difference between the success and failure of a business, and going into the best slots can be the key to big profits.According to the Pew Research Center, Google holds a virtual monopoly on Internet searches in the United States. 83% of Americans indicated that Google was the search engine they used most often. So, if Google favors a candidate for an election, its impact on undecided voters could easily decide the outcome of the election.

In early 2013, Robert Epstein and his associate Ronald E Robertson of the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology of Vista, California, tested this idea by leading an experiment in which 102 people from the San Diego area were randomly assigned. In one group, Internet users saw search results favoring a political candidate. Meaning, results linked to web pages giving that candidate a better appearance than his or her opponent. In a second group, users saw search rankings, favoring the opposing candidate and in the third group - the control group - they found a combination of rankings that did not favor any candidate. The same search results and web pages were used in each group; the only difference between the three groups was the ranking of the search results. To make their experience realistic, they used real search results related to real web pages. They had also used a real election. The 2010 election of the Australian prime minister. The purpose of using elections from a foreign country in the United States was to ensure that participants were "undecided". Their lack of familiarity with the candidates confirmed it.

Through advertisements, they also recruited a group of registered voters from a diverse ethnic group of broad age to conform to the key demographic characteristics of the US voter population. After giving all the participants a brief description of the candidates, then they asked them to evaluate them in different ways and to indicate for which candidate they would vote; none of the candidates really stood out from the crowd. However, when survey participants had up to 15 minutes to complete an online search, which allowed them to access five webpages of biased search results. The new electoral choices, proved, that the proportion of people favorable to the candidate ranked first of the search engine, increased of 48,4%. Moreover, 75% of the groups appeared to be completely unaware that they were looking at skewed search rankings. By repeating the experiment with higher numbers of participants, the first results of the survey seemed to be confirmed, sometimes going as far as 80% of tilting of voting intentions in favor of the candidates who ranked better in search engines. Robert Epstein and his associate Ronald E Robertson, titled this phenomenon SEME search engine manipulation effect. In the 2012 US presidential election, Google and its leaders donated more than $ 800,000 to President Barack Obama and $ 37,000 to his opponent, Mitt Romney. And in 2015, a team of researchers from the University of Maryland and elsewhere showed that Google's search results consistently favored Democratic candidates. Are Google's search rankings really biased? An internal report published in 2012 by the US Federal Trade Commission concluded that Google's rankings in searches consistently put Google's financial interests above those of its competitors.In most countries, 90% of online searches are done on Google, giving even more power to the multinational, to drastically influence the elections in case the access to the Internet becomes better. In their investigation Robert Epstein and Ronald E Robertson found that Google now had the power to overturn 25% of national elections in the world, without anyone knowing that this was happening. And because the search rankings are ephemeral, they leave no written record, which gives the company complete denial. Apart, from the case Cambridge Analytica, Facebook was cited in a study by Robert M. Bond, now professor of political science at Ohio State University. In 2012, he described an ethically dubious experiment in which, on polling day 2010, Facebook sent reminders of "going out and voting" to 60 million of its specially targeted users. The reminders drove about 340,000 people who would otherwise not have been able to vote, to vote. In an article in The New Republic in 2014, Jonathan Zittrain, University professor of international law at Harvard, pointed out that, given the wealth of information collected about its users, Facebook could easily send such messages only to people who support a party. Or a candidate, which could easily trigger a close election - without anyone knowing that this has happened. And since advertisements, like search rankings, are ephemeral, manipulating an election in this way would leave no written record. Are there laws prohibiting Facebook from sending selective ads to certain users? Absolutely not; In fact, it is with targeted advertising that Facebook earns its money. Does Facebook currently handle elections this way?Some candidates are better for a company than others, and Facebook executives have a fiduciary responsibility to the company's shareholders to promote the company's interests.An experiment conducted by Facebook, published in 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), sparked protests in the United States and in the whole world. In this study, for one week, 689,000 Facebook users had received a news feed containing an excess of positive terms, an excess of negative terms or neither. Those in the first group then started using slightly more positive terms in their communications, while those in the second group used slightly more negative terms. This would show that people's emotional states can be deliberately manipulated on a large scale by a social media company, an idea that many people have found disturbing. People were also upset by the fact that a vast emotional experience had been conducted without the explicit consent of any of the participants. If Facebook is able to manipulate the behavior and make some individuals verbally abusive, it may be thought that this ploy could to be logically used to discredit some interlocutor in the web. The language violence of some pro Black, pro Palestine, or anti-imperialist could well be the result of a social engineering experiment.These methods of manipulating the conscience were used in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, during the elections of 2016, in the United States. Christopher Willie, a former research director at the British firm that has since closed down, claimed in the press (NY Times, and Guardian) that Cambridge Analytica had used the information gleaned from the data banks of social network users that had been sold to them by a Facebook associate, to identify the subconscious prejudices of Americans and develop political messages designed to arouse their anxieties and thus influence their political decisions, decisively using the marketing technique known as "psychography", which is more generally used to attract customers, exploiting details that trigger their underlying emotional reflexes. Potential voters, considered authoritarian, would have received messages about gun rights or Trump's desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Those too anxious and insecure would have received messages incriminating the Democratic Party in its laissez-faire immigration. A carelessness that would favor crime and unemployment. Alexander Nix, who served as CEO of Cambridge Analytica, had previously described this method of psychological excitement of society as "secret sauce".Although Facebook's consumer profiles are very large, they are thin compared to Google, which collects information about people, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, using more than 60 different platforms. Of observation. The search engine, of course, but also Google Wallet, Google Maps, Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Chrome, Google Docs, Android, YouTube, etc. Gmail users are generally unaware that Google records and scans all the emails they write, even the drafts they never send, and all the incoming emails their user receive, whether they are Gmail subscribers or not.Manipulative technology is not just the business of Western multinationals who have since took over the western world decision apparatuses, in what is now called the capitalist democracy of the West. By 2020, China will have put in place the most ambitious government surveillance system ever created, helped in this scheme by Google technology. A unique database called social credit system, in which multiple ratings and records for all of its 1.3 billion citizens are recorded so that officials and bureaucrats can easily access them. At a glance, they will know, if someone has plagiarized their homework, is slow to pay their bills, is urinating in public, or blogging "inappropriately" online.

When one combines data collection with the desire to control or manipulate, the possibilities are endless. Former business professor at Harvard University Shoshana Zuboff, calls "monitoring capitalism" the use of databases generated by the activity of Internet users. Anything that can be captured about citizens, often with outrageously fraudulent scheme like Facebook Messenger, that can activate the microphone and the camera of your smart phone unbeknownst to you, is sucked up and monetized by data brokers, and the marketing specialists. These data are grouped into probability algorithms, which tell advertisers what you could buy, insurance companies if your risk is good, colleges if you're an attractive candidate, courts if you're likely to commit another crime, and so on. And the monitoring does not just stop at the materially visible data. Encouraging researches aimed at reading the thoughts of individuals are being implemented, with the proposal of new electronic gadgets that offer for example to turn on and off the light bulbs of your home by though, are nonetheless other schemes to get into the meanders of your consciousness to read and use it for other purposes, because, manipulation, speed and anticipation, remain essentials in the strategy of neuromarketing.

Read more at www.flashmag.net

Hubert Marlin

Journalist


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