Hereafter you find some Axioms on (the use of) social networks, with intention to encourage

  • Further discussions,
  • Research on the direct and indirect influences and possible abuses, and
  • Discussion at the political level of suitable measures for at least the EU.

The axioms and opinions or those of the author.

This contribution uses work by Lanting, Lokshina* and Thomas* (* SUNY Oneonta, NY).

 

  1. The main usefulness of social network for political and commercial use is that of broadcasting.
    1. Social networks merely function as set of address lists, that allow ‘personalized’ messages to be broadcasted among a large number of groups and communities;
    2. It therefore should be considered to apply rules for publishing and/or broadcasting also to information disseminated in and by means of social networks.
  2. The so-called Micro-targeting is not as powerful and less important than is advertised by social networks.
    1. Given that the user entries are not verified and difficult verifiable, the information operated on is not sufficient to micro-target(ing) individual users;
    2. User entries, and additional information ‘sneak-peeked’ by APP or Client software from the smartphone or PC (often without an explicit agreement from the user) is likely to  contain information confusing and obscuring perception by augmenting the frontstage: logged data resulting from looking for information for or about others is difficult to distinguish from information relevant to the user Person-X him- or herself;
    3. Instead, looking for communalities among communicates and groups of users may provide some information on interest that may be common to at least part of the community or group;
    4. The effectiveness of dissemination to a group or community is augmented by selective relaying by users within, or more importantly to outside the group or community;
    5. a shotgun approach of dissemination with added reliance on selective relaying by users may be highly effective, possibly as good or better than micro-targeting would be;
    6. see points 5., 6. and 7. hereafter, also for some of the terminology
  3. The performance of search engines may have to be re-evaluated, as search engines have a tendency to return at least for a part information and links to information that is not what a specific user search is looking for, but related information that others have been looking for.  
    1. This is illustrated by the ‘Bettina Wulff case’: Bettina Wulff Körner, wife of the former German President Christian Wulff, became the victim of links in Google created by users trying to look for rumours about her past; this resulted in Google's search engine returning suggestions including 'prostitute', 'escort' and 'red-light district' when searching for Bettina Wulff' (and her name when searching for ‘prostitute’, ‘escort’);
    2. Whereas such associations could be acceptable or even useful for shopping, the above example could be seen as an example of an abuse, and even possible slander.   
  4. If the result of operations on data sets from social networks, using Self Learning, AI and/or Big Data techniques, are claimed to be not predictable and not describable in the form of algorithm(s), then the persons responsible may have to be considered incompetent, negligent and even irresponsible.
    1. If designers of medical or self-driving vehicle control systems would not be able to describe the resulting functions of Self-Learning and/or AI, the equipment and vehicles equipped with such systems should not be allowed to be used, and if they would be used anyhow, accidents would rightfully give rise to civil and/or penal legal actions.
  5. The visible user entry (the perception) of a Person-X on a social network is a mix of factual and non-factual information, the observer (the perceiver) cannot make the distinction what is factual information (backstage) and what is non-factual information (frontstage), without having access to other sources of complementary and/or overlapping information.
    1. See also: “The need for validity checks on information on social media”, a blog entry of Nov. 1 last.
  6. The Person-X user entry may be a false or completely invented entry, in which case the factual information (backstage) is minimal or even empty, the non-factual information (frontstage) maximal.
    1. The case is nicely illustrated by US Senator Mitt Romney’s Twitter user @qaws9876, known as Pierre Delecto;
    2. The ‘Romney case’ is not unique:
      1. Many others, including e.g. Trump, are suspected of using or having used false user entries on social networks;
      2. Facebook removes quantities false accounts, this year already in the Billions.
  7. When observing entries of Person-X on different social networks, the commonality of information between the perceptions does not guarantee that the common information is factual: instead, it only demonstrates consistency of information provided by Person-X.
    1. Master-spies and under-cover agents are, and must be, very good at this, not only on social networks or equivalent, but also in real life.