By now it should be very clear that social media has very strong effects on the real world

By now it should be very clear that social media has very strong effects on the real world. It can no
longer be dismissed as “things that happen on the internet”. What goes on inside Facebook, Twitter, and
other social media platforms can change the course of nations. Neither does it help that social media is
driven by subjective factors (i.e., the emotions and feelings of users), instead of objective things like facts.
Everyone now has their own truth, which is based on their personal knowledge and experience and not
much else.
Idealists would have us believe that the internet is a utopian paradise where everyone can connect with
anyone else, where information can be exchanged until the truth came out. Things haven’t quite turned
out that way as there’s little to no proof that the information being passed around online was properly
vetted and verified. It turned out that a lie could get around the world much faster than the truth—if the lie
played to the lesser, baser instincts of the audience.
Combining the internet and applying public opinion manipulation theory has proven to be remarkably
effective. In the past, elections were a contest between a country’s political parties, with each trying to get
their own message out to the electorate. It was difficult, if not impossible, for external actors to influence
an election. This is no longer the case, and political campaigns and parties now have to plan accordingly.
They need to understand that parties outside of the political sphere have their own agenda and can use
cyber propaganda and misinformation to influence campaigns and elections as well; this is something
that political parties need to understand and defend against, if needed.
Businesses and individuals face similar challenges. The specifics for them are different, but the problem
is the same: false or unfair information about them, when made public, can damage their reputations
and cause real-world consequences. Alternately, groups or persons without much in the way of scruples
could use these techniques to improve their reputations.

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