A hashtag then a trend then nothing…Thus goes the manufacturing of illusion. When the hashtag begins its journey towards a vacuum, many feel that the world is waiting for that launch. After a while, everybody forgets all about the previous trend amidst the new hustle of trends and the chaos of new “hashtaggers.”
Manufactured public opinion: The new cyber war
by Al Ahram
Monday ,04 November 2019
The hashtag rises and its opposite also rises, the hashtag and its anti-hashtag rise together. The hashtaggers are restless, for the main characteristic of this new thing is its mercuriality. No constancy, everything will perish after a while and the criteria that have governed the past hours may not be the ones that govern the next few hours. Endless fluid opinions and opinion leaders aren t ashamed of shifting their viewpoints around the clock, swaying from one side to the other.
The virtual world is about to triumph over the real world. We are facing a mixed world where globalised man lives half in reality and half in imagination; half of his life based on planet Earth involving how to earn a living and meet his needs, and the other half clinging to the mobile screen, revolving with artificial satellites in their distant orbits.
Governments and institutions as well as communities and individuals realise the big change that occurred to Man s nature, his reality having shrunk to a half, or less than half. As a result, the race has begun to invest in the virtual half in the new man.
One of the biggest features of the contemporary world order has become cybernetic war. Within the battles of this global electronic war, new mechanisms have emerged: the electronic battalions. These battalions are made up of anonymous persons sitting before secret monitors to execute their masters vision -- to elevate those they deem worthy of elevation and tarnish those they think worthy of tarnishing.
Electronic battalions were exclusive to a limited number of governments and intelligence services, but they have since expanded to be one of the mechanisms of groups and organisations as well as companies and persons.
It is now in the capacity of a person to establish an electronic battalion that defends him and smear his opponents. Groups and movements have become capable of devoting their battalions to lie about other parties, describing them with all that denigrates them and undermines their stature and path. Electronic battalions sit in pitch-dark rooms without being seen and write whatever they like, for their names and accounts are all fake.
The New York Times published a cartoon once of two dogs sitting in front of a computer screen, while one of them is hesitant about writing, the other dog says to him “don t worry, the internet doesn t know that you re a dog.”
Electronic dogs have destroyed homelands and peoples. They have torn down social fabric and national belongingness amid the follies of millions of recipients, writing haughtily and arrogantly as if they are big philosophers or prestigious thinkers, while they are just a cheap tool in the hands of cybernetic dogs manipulating their minds with the tip of their tails.
Global cybernetic war has transcended that old level of electronic battalions, and computer programs have been designed to work automatically to achieve the same objective. A wedge is driven between the people and the authorities, between the people themselves or between a state and another, and every party escalates its attack on the other party, while the person administering the escalation in reality is the one standing behind the flood of comments which the program has launched in specific directions.
In my speech to the forum of the Strategic Vision Group – “Russia-Islamic World” (RIW Group) presided over by Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan, which was held in St. Petersburg in September and was attended Farid Mukhametshin, Deputy Chairman of International Affairs in the Federal Russian Council, and Ambassador Veniamin Popov, I called the fake popular approaches produced by cybernetic wars “manufactured public opinion”. This isn t natural public opinion, whatever the foundation it is built upon or what it is moving towards. It is, rather, public opinion that is manufactured in other capitals and other bodies aiming at delivering an untrue public opinion on a certain issue. It is stealing the right of speech on behalf of the people by an unknown manufacturing source.
Manufactured public opinion represents a great threat to freedom and democracy because it obscures the real public opinion. It invests in the “silent majority,” staying away from the scene. Thus, manufactured public opinion becomes more powerful and more present, given the absence of the majority and the ascendancy of the cybernetic minority.
Contemporary democracy is threatened by a dangerous triangle, similar to the Bermuda Triangle, that is capable of swallowing everything. It is threatened by the ascendancy of money, manufactured public opinion and the silent majority.
It has become absolutely impossible for a candidate to be engaged in an election in the West, or not in the West, without the financial support that in turn provides media support. It has also become impossible to attract the silent majority to a scene it realised has become captive to money and media. Moreover, it has become impossible to realise the real public opinion approaches in the light of the ascendance of manufactured public opinion.
Pressure from sensible people against the chaos of opinion and the floods of accounts advocating crime or terrorism, or opposing security and peace, have now made big corporations respond positively. In April 2018, Twitter announced the deletion of 1.2 million accounts during the years 2015–2017. During the first quarter of 2018, Facebook deleted more than half a billion accounts, and in the last quarter of the same year it deleted more than a billion accounts.
According to the Associated Press, Facebook deleted 2.2 billion fake accounts during the first quarter of 2019. Hence, more than 2 billion accounts were deleted from Facebook in three months only!
These deletion numbers clarify the volume of tragedy threatening human thought. Undoubtedly, trillions of foolish, criminal and terrorist opinions are still steadfast and active.
Manufactured public opinion is a great threat and confronting it is next to impossible. It is the biggest danger facing the national state in the 21st century. Of course, there exist those sensible persons using social media networks. They are sensible supporters and opponents possessing vision and perception and can offer brilliant ideas. They have fascinating viewpoints, profound knowledge and inventive visions. However, those sensible persons can t appear amid all this clamour. They are similar to a child who is shouting in a raucous square or like a person delivering an excellent speech in the Sahara.