The distributed network ecology of cyberspace is playing an increasingly vital role in the terms of digital dissent, this week I delve into how the environment allows and facilitates that of political discourse. Because each individual node possesses the power to broadcast to the entire network, it could be assumed this would “diversify the marketplace of ideas” and afford the public an “improved forum for political deliberation” (Wojcieszak & Mutz, 2009, p.40). This is an ideal tactic in increasing the involvement of consumer awareness within democratic governance, though some instances have highlighted the way government agencies take advantage of the Internet’s distributed topography and use it to sway the views during important periods.
‘Sock Puppeting’ functions through the filter of deception. It is the act of curating fraud online personas, creating the illusion of collective support or rejection towards specific causes, people, situations.
Operation Earnest Voice was a government campaign, devised by the US military where a large quantity of sock puppets aided the movement in spreading pro-US political propaganda through conversation on various social media platforms. It was supposedly established in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces.
The ‘electronic frontier’ is presented in this context is quite daunting, and the way governments have the power to manipulate the public behind many masks through a distributed network arouses a sense of political and digital ambiguity. Deceiving populations on this scale raises the concern and realistic threat about the capabilities of the government, and those similar, suppressing values and directing them to corrupt ends.
- Wojcieszak, ME & Mutz, DC 2009, ‘Online groups and political discourse: do online discussion spaces facilitate exposure to political disagreement?’, Journal of Communication, vol. 59, no. 1 pp. 40-56, date accessed: 16 Oct 2016, <https://www.sas.upenn.edu/polisci/sites/www.sas.upenn.edu.polisci/files/wojcieszak_mutz_2009.pdf> >