Affective Reverb: the Instagram Problem

Insta thrives on affective reverb created by friendly fraud, they need to clean up their

Last week a we were all treated to a fascinating image of a blackhole courtesy of the photo-stitching brilliance of Dr. Katie Bouman. This was the culmination of years of work with thousands of scientists. Perhaps as important as the image itself, was a candid photograph of her, elated with the achievement, circulated to make her visible to the historical process. Of course visibility is a trap, she became visible to be interpolated into the social codes of science but also the hateful reaction against inclusion and social change. Luckily people are now are aware of such tactics and coverage answering the smear is solid, from The Verge and even The Today Show.

Although the attacks themselves are hurtful and counter productive,

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But Why Did This Get So Far?

Reddit has a bad reputation, and somewhat deservedly so. For the most part the platform is good enough that people actually want to go there, unlike 4chan. We did it Reddit is a low point for the the platform, when users believed they had identified the Boston Marathon Bomber, when they had not. The attacks on Bouman are worse as they are clearly in bad faith.

The easy answer is to blame the bridge embankments where trolls gather, although Reddit is an example of when platform management goes right, as management has done a reasonable job of purging bad subs. Efforts at improved network management are common place and will continue on Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook: YouTube seems inept. When Facebook discusses these issues and purges they focus on “coordinated inauthentic behavior” which is Zuckerberg theory for people not

A number of the key accounts in the harassment of Dr. Bouman are from Instragram, these are new, troll accounts. This is clearly the lowest hanging fruit to stop harassment: blocking the creation new accounts in the names of individuals involved in national news stories. This would not need to be a perpetual block, but it makes sense that the publicity rights of a suddenly public figure should be protected.

It makes too much sense to use a precautionary principal to protect accounts during emerging news stories. So why are there so many clone accounts in general? To solve the feed density problem, thus enabling the infinite scroll, Insta allows clone accounts to keep on publishing material continuously. One insta model celeb is thus supported by a number of re-transmitters echoing their greatest hits.

When this works well for an entrepreneur, it isn’t just an echo: it is reverb. The sympathetic waves of the affect form a beautiful sound. At the highest level it becomes a standing wave, like singing in the shower. The tribute accounts then are circulating greatest hits while the main accounts focus on new content. Everyone wins, and the artificial sources make it appear like there are more folks confirming the importance of the content. Social reverb is a kind of coordinated inauthentic behavior, beneficial for Facebook, much like the Friendly Fraud of early social games.

Instagram is the Key

Efforts are already underway to make Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter better. Surely Google will fix YouTube at some point, we hope. Instagram is an open target right now for propaganda. All that was once Reddit is now in the amplification machine if Insta. The question for Facebook: how will they manage the inauthentic reverb they need for Insta to survive while not allowing it to be the worst platform of all?

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