Not That Kind of Sock Puppet

When I first heard the words “Sock Puppets” this week, my naive, somewhat blasé mind  admittedly conjured up images similar to those seen above. But unfortunately it’s a wild old wired world on that web, and in this case, we’re dealing with something much more alarming.

Sock Puppets are false online identities that are used to deceive populations and sway discussion towards a public trajectory. I imagine it a bit like a really powerful, manipulative and persuasive version of a cat-fish, but on a much larger scale. In this instance, these false online personas have a much greater influence than I had ever conceived. Sock puppets have the ability to completely subvert a public discourse and sway online discussion (and hence opinion) in a desired direction.

It sounds like some crazy conspiracy theory. And I wish that were the case. But the use of sock puppets in such methodologies has been going on for a while now. In fact back in 2011, The US military was reported by The Guardian to be “developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda”.

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It really made me wonder just how much of the conversations or debates I read online are completely authentic, and completely veracious.

And one more thing I can’t stop contemplating: is it ever possible for one sock-puppet to be interacting online with another, without either party being aware? Let me know what you think below.

 

(Featured Image: https://www.wired.com/2014/07/virtual-unreality-the-online-sockpuppets-that-trick-us-all/)

Published by susiealdermann

Fifth Year Bachelor of Communications and Media/ Bachelor of International Studies (Dean's Scholar) student

2 thoughts on “Not That Kind of Sock Puppet

  1. It’s quite scary to think that ‘sock puppets’ are actually real and manipulating public opinion right now. My first thought is to think back on all the recent elections and the online debate surrounding those. Surely there were sock puppets influencing those discussions. I had a look into the 2016 US election and found a pretty interesting article about Trumps ties to Russia and their use of sock puppets in the lead up to the election. If you have time it’s worth the read. https://medium.com/data-for-democracy/sockpuppets-secessionists-and-breitbart-7171b1134cd5

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow you really helped me better understand the term Susie! (Seriously hahaha)
    Loving your train of thought here as well as your concern. I think having the awareness of these structures & happenings is the main way to ensure your own opinion stays your own opinion. Although wrapping your head around a constantly changing network and media can get difficult… but we’re on the right track.
    I also found this article really helpful to in having an encompassing understand of this really complex topic! https://medium.com/meedan-updates/sockpuppets-and-spambots-how-states-manipulate-social-networks-c77ecdc46e0a

    Liked by 1 person

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