A Low-Tech Solution to the Russian Hack Problem

So, here’s my non-technological, non-regulatory, short-term solution for what we’ll generally call the Russian hack problem:  Share less. A lot less.

If 100 million or so citizens shared just a little less noise, this would substantially mitigate the intended effects of Russian meddlers and other manipulators who stand to gain from Americans hating each other and, by extension, hating democratic principles. And just maybe such a dramatic shift in user behavior would also provide Facebook with useful information for redesigning the platform. Here’s a recent post a friend put up …

NRA’s Dana Loesch says MLK might be alive today if he was carrying a concealed weapon

This a perfect example of a story that  I will not “Like” or share despite my gut instinct to believe that Dana Loesch might be crazy enough to say something that stupid. But here’s a rough calculus as to why I won’t promote this post:

Is it likely that the headline accurately reflects what she said? Maybe.

Is RawStory a serious, investigative news organization? No.

Is this story addressing the gun-control issue in a substantive way? No.

Is it satire (because satire has value)?  No.

Are my friends and I already broadly disgusted by Loesch and the NRA?  Yes.

Even if she said this, does it really change the broader narrative? No.

By sharing, would I add to the level of noise and outrage? Yes.

By sharing, would I feed the data-harvesting machine for no good reason?  Yes!

By sharing, would I be aiding the efforts of foreign manipulators?  Yes!!!!!

I’m not suggesting that my personal approach represents a universal rationale. But if a large percentage of users were to adopt some rationale for simply not promoting the least-substantive and most sensational posts (unless they’re legit funny), this would probably have a mitigating effect on the current problem before either Facebook or Congress does anything. At the very least, it would be interesting to see what happens.  Not that I’m holding my breath.

© 2018, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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