Chronicle 1471: History of the 21st Century; Social Media and “Fake News”

November 18 2017

Only 376 short years before the exodus of the first colonists to our Moon, and before the population of Earth devolved into the Barbarians they are today, the human race was just beginning to come to grips with a new and complicated problem: the inability to authenticate facts.

It was known as the social media era. These websites or programs were created for users to share moments from their lives on the internet, much like our NeuroNet™ but with the aid of external devices, and they quickly permeated the culture of the early 21st century. In fact, it was so prolific that some studies estimated the average person would be on social media websites for nearly two hours a day on average. This was a surprisingly large amount of time considering the average person’s workload in a pre-AI society[1].

At first, the novelty of sharing their most intimate moments with the anonymous masses was thrilling. Some took the opportunities provided by social media and the internet to connect with people around the world and build bridges of understanding across cultures[2].Others used the platform to share their beliefs on politics, religion, and television shows, or to post photos of their meals.

Soon after the advent of these globe-spanning networks, the proto-Barbarians appropriated the technology to spread misinformation. They used the public’s love of social media against them, mining their posts for data and gaining valuable insights into what inflamed or incited the masses. They would then use this data to garner “hits” on their falsified news stories, thus shaping the population’s opinions.

We can now map the effects of this form of propaganda because of programs like CogniTrack and InfluEns, but at the time, many people dismissed the impact of these false missives as negligible. They had no way to prove whether a false news story viewed by thousands could have actually influenced decisions.

Historical psychologists have noted that this reaction was most likely borne out of protective instincts--people didn’t want to admit that their actions could be so easily manipulated, and so they adhered to a narrative that allowed them to view their thoughts as their own.

In any event, it's clear that the advent of social media--and the subsequent co-opting of the global network by those who would manipulate it--was the beginning of the devolution of humanity into the Barbarian Horde of modern Earth. In a way, it is what started us on the path to Lunar Enlightenment. See Chapter 7 for more on the role of technology in the Lunar Ascension.

[1] A Day in the Life of an Earthling: Years 2000-2150 by Johann Valdez, Ph.D.
[2] Chronicle 45376d: History of the 21st Century; The Listserve [previous Listserve post by Lauren of Brooklyn]

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