Controlling the Masses

I did not see it coming but it is coming as sure as eggs is eggs. In the early days of the internet search engines like Google offered a free search service. They did so at a huge development cost creating complex algorithms; MySpace and Facebook offered and others offered different free services. Ultimately, of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch and advertisements and marketing ploys starting the hard sell. Today there are data miners, who can figure out what individual users of search engines and social electronic media may want to buy, so if you visit one site you will find your search engine offering you products indicated by your last search.

There is an element of control and manipulation. The free services now make very large profits from advertising and advertisers now can find out so much information about their potential customers that they can successfully adapt the hard sell to the profiles that their formulae indicate.

Recently Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on hundred of thousands of its users. It manipulated the news feed on their pages and gauged their reaction according to the type of news fed. Some claim that the experiment was part of a governmental programme to control the masses; others claimed that it was another way to make money by affecting the mood of the users, making them more susceptible to buying. Facebook claimed that it was simply a programme to give their users a better experience, whatever that means. Facebook said that although they experimented on 698,000 users they did not collect any personal data. I believe they because they did not want to collect any personal data, they wanted to understand mass psychology.

Predicting mass behaviour is an under developed science. The internet provides a unique way to collect information to predict and to manipulate mass behaviour. They experimenters do not want or need your personal data; they simply want to see how they can control the masses; you are one of the masses and by playing a numbers game of what is most likely to succeed in controlling the masses they are likely to control you, however intelligent or individualistic you may be.

Once oratory and writing changed moods and sentiments of the masses; today we are likely to find that within a relatively short period – no more than a few years at most, businesses will use the tools of the science of mass behaviour to pick the pockets of people leaving them with a smile on their faces, and politicians will use the same tools to manipulate votes. Nations will rush eagerly in wars and conflicts enabled so to do by support of the masses obtained by manipulation.

This is a infinitely more subtle tool than old fashioned propaganda and much harder to defeat. It will make us less individual and more robotic. O brave new world that has such devices in it.

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