How U.S. Social Media and Search Results Manipulate Behavior (Including Elections) - Granite Grok

How U.S. Social Media and Search Results Manipulate Behavior (Including Elections)

dumb-social-media-questions Bart Simpson

by Dr. Bruce Trivellini

In the coming weeks, we will be putting together a series of posts. They will provide information on how to research and understand the way Social Media collects and uses the information from you when you use their platform.

All the information they collect is subliminal, invisible and noncompetitive.

This information obtained unwittingly from the users is being used to modify your behavior in ways researchers never imagined.

The ephemeral effects from the use of this information, make the Russian ads placed during the last election cycle look childish by comparison and cannot be counteracted.

The foremost behavioral scientist studying this is Dr. Robert Epstein, Ph.D. We here at OHB suggest that you become familiar with his work; Epstein 1 Epstein 2 Epstein 3

In the Beginning

For the purpose of this introduction, OHB would like to start with Dr. Epstein’s Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) and how it can manipulate the VOTE.

It is no secret that higher search engine results, consumer-likes and thumbs-up or likes are making people feel good about themselves and the product for which they are searching. What most people don’t know is that your search results have already been manipulated to shows you that upon which you are most likely to act.

[SEME] “leaves people thinking they have made up their own minds, which is very much an illusion. It also leaves no paper trail for authorities to trace. Worse still, the very few people who can detect bias in search results shift even farther in the direction of the bias, so merely being able to see the bias doesn’t protect you from it. Bottom line: biased search results can easily produce shifts in the opinions and voting preference of undecided voters by 20 percent or more –up to 80 percent in some demographic groups.”

What makes SEME so effective is page rank/search list. This is the backbone of BackRub/Google, created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

As students, the two developers were against pop-up ads or advertising-funded search engines…However,  in 2000, the pair began selling advertising from keyword searches.

Page and Brin probably realized how much their page rank/search list priority programming was worth when Mr. Bill Gross came a calling with a pay/click patent infringement lawsuit in hand.

But the real key to Google’s success and Dr. Epstein’s research is the search list.

“Why do search rankings elicit such consistent browsing behavior? Part of the answer lies in the basic design of a search engine results page: the list. For more than a century, research has shown that an item’s position on a list has a powerful and persuasive impact on subjects’ [sic] recollection and evaluation of that item (16–18). Specific order effects, such as primacy and recency, show that the first and last items presented on a list, respectively, are more likely to be recalled than items in the middle (16, 17).

Next: The psychology of it all