Cyber Phrenology - How Is It a Thing?
I’m not a computer maven. So, I apologize in advance if this post is old news for some. It is a shallow water dive into the world of influencing public opinion via memes and social media postings.
I came across this term, cyber phrenology, when looking at a tweet profile of a wing nut tweeting a video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing to try to discredit her. (It backfired…)
Anyway, Phrenology is the (discredited) theory of predicting mental abilities and character from the shape and size of the cranium. If I’m understanding Cyber Phrenology correctly, it is using memes, (playing on values, beliefs etc.) of a targeted demographic group to influence them. This is accomplished by knowing the kinds of metadata that surround the postings of the particular target group. For instance, a particular cloud of metadata will coalesce around Millennials, or Blacks or women, etc. This could be (mostly) benign as with targeted advertising, or evil with false memes to confuse and propagandize the unwitting. The twist in this is “spoofing” social media by flooding it with postings that are the opposite of the expected content - in other words, manipulating metadata from white nationalists, foreign powers (Russia, Iran etc) to appear they are blacks that have “woken” to the white Democratic plantation and “walked away”, “feminists” who saw the light of conservatism. etc. While all this is pretty well known, I didn’t know how open source the tools for “training” operatives to corrupt “the system” is. Patrick Ryan is apparently big into this - he has a website devoted to it: cultstate.com
Note - he has a specific tab at the top of the page for training… Organized deception is so dangerous - I don’t like to think about the ramifications of a truely post truth society.