Inside the bizarre world of internet trolls and propagandists | Andrew Marantz | Summary and Q&A

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Inside the bizarre world of internet trolls and propagandists | Andrew Marantz

TL;DR

The speaker spent three years investigating the toxic garbage on the internet and its impact on society.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What motivated the speaker to start investigating the spread of toxic content on the internet?

The speaker wanted to understand who was creating and spreading toxic content, as well as the impact it was having on society.

Q: How did the social media propagandist in Southern California spread his messages?

The propagandist used social media tools, such as tweeting on his laptop and live streaming via Periscope and YouTube, to spread his fringe and noxious talking points.

Q: What kind of emotions drive online conversation?

High-arousal emotions, which can be positive or negative, are what drive conversation online. These emotions spark engagement and are sought after to make content viral.

Q: How did individuals become radicalized in the online spaces the speaker investigated?

Many of the individuals the speaker spoke to had a combination of high IQ and low EQ. They found comfort in anonymous online spaces where their worst impulses were magnified, leading them to retreat even further into these spaces and becoming radicalized.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The internet is filled with toxic content such as racist memes and misinformation, and the speaker wanted to understand who is creating and spreading it and what impact it has on society.

  • The speaker spent three years researching and talking to individuals involved in creating and spreading toxic content. Many of them understood how social media algorithms work and how to exploit them to spread their message.

  • To tackle this issue, the speaker suggests being a smart skeptic, engaging in meaningful conversations about free speech, making decency cool again, and pressuring social media platforms to optimize for something other than emotional engagement.

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