Discourse Saboteurs

[Kathleen Hall Jamieson's] case is based on a growing body of knowledge about the electronic warfare waged by Russian trolls and hackers — whom she terms “discourse saboteurs” — and on five decades’ worth of academic studies about what kinds of persuasion can influence voters, and under what circumstances. Democracies around the world, she told me, have begun to realize that subverting an election doesn’t require tampering with voting machines. Extensive studies of past campaigns, Jamieson said, have demonstrated that “you can affect people, who then change their decision, and that alters the outcome.” She continued, “I’m not arguing that Russians pulled the voting levers. I’m arguing that they persuaded enough people to either vote a certain way or not vote at all.”
How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump, by Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 24 September 2018. The article is a profile of Kathleen Hall Jamieson forensic's analysis of the 2016 election: Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President — What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know (Oxford University Press, 2018)

A pre-Newtonian moment

“Social media is in a pre-Newtonian moment, where we all understand that it works, but not how it works,” Mr. Systrom told me, comparing this moment in the tech world to the time before man could explain gravity. “There are certain rules that govern it and we have to make it our priority to understand the rules, or we cannot control it.”

Leo Laporte: Maybe what he's thinking is Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook to connect and everything like that. It was used against us in our elections by the Russians particularly to convince people not to vote or to stay at home mostly or to vote for somebody in particular. To me that was the come-to-Jesus moment where somebody figured out how to use social media in a very powerful way and they understood it but Zuckerberg did not and it took Facebook off guard, and at first they denied it even happened. Finally of late they've admitted yeah that's what happened.

Larry Magid: I think part of the problem for consumers is that most of us don't know how it works. We know that there are algorithms…

Leo Laporte: But do you think Zuck [Mark Zuckerberg] does is the question?

Larry Magid: That's what I'm saying, I assume that Zuck does, but maybe he doesn't fully understand it.

This Week in Tech (TWIT) 606, 19 March 2019, [at 43:51]

Different ground

The dinners demonstrated a commitment from Zuckerberg to solve the hard problems that Facebook has created for itself through its relentless quest for growth. But several people who attended the dinners said they believe that they were starting the conversation on fundamentally different ground: Zuckerberg believes that Facebook’s problems can be solved. Many experts do not.
The Impossible Job: Inside Facebook’s Struggle to Moderate Two Billion People by Jason Koebler and Joseph Cox, Motherboard, 23 August 2019

The Tyranny of Analytics

In the social media age, the measurability and commoditization of content, in the form of traffic, clicks, and likes, has tethered editorial strategy to analytics like never before. The emphasis on quantifiable metrics stacks the news cycle with stories most likely to generate the highest level of engagement possible, across as many platforms as possible. Things traveling too far, too fast, with too much emotional urgency, is exactly the point, but these are also the conditions that can create harm.
From Executive Summary: The Tyranny of Analytics, in The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting on Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators Online by Whitney Phillips, Data & Society, May 2018

"Friends and other non-professional influencers"

At its core, the social revolution allows people to consume what they want, when they want, and largely on the recommendation of friends and other non-professional influencers.  Attempt to graft old models onto it and you are doomed to struggle; find models that are native to the medium and you will thrive.
— From It’s Not About You: The Truth About Social Media Marketing by Tim O'Reilly, October 2, 2012.