Manipulation technique: 8 dirty tricks used by propagandists on social media (I)

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Authors: Danil Maluha și Serghei Climovici

How does Facebook spread certain information in your name? Why do your friends think you liked a site with a bad reputation? People who have created entertainment groups make money from propaganda. We have identified eight, the most common methods of manipulation and deception, used by ukrainian party staff, commercial companies and russian propagandists.

  1. A spontaneously like for a Facebook page

Your Facebook friends see that you appreciate a trash site that promotes “harassment” or other inappropriate things. But you will find out about this only if one of your friends will privately write you something like: “Man, are you crazy? Why do you liked such garbage? “

How did that happen? You were fooled and used when you accessed a scandalous title on facebook and were redirected to the site that published the news. A window immediately appeared on the monitor: “Find out all the news on our Facebook page”. You clicked several times, without realizing it.

It’s just that this tab is not made as small as you see it, but it is spread all over the page, and 80% is transparent. The program settings are made in such a way that any click is considered a like. This trick allows you to gain a lot of appreciation, but flagrantly violates Facebook rules.


2. Shares from your name

Your friends write to you that you support a cause that is not at all noble but you have no clue what this is about.


It all started from the fact that you accepted a friend request from a stranger with a very attractive profile picture. Who would refuse it? Respectively you gave him access to your list of friends. In settings you can block this but, unfortnately, not everyone know how to do this. If your new virtual friend writes a propaganda message , for example a commercial one and tag you, many of your friends will see that. Some will believe that the message was shared by you.

A simple calculation. Suppose you have 1000 friends. Spam has tagged hundreds of people like you. If this content will be viewed by at least 5% of your friends, we have an audience of 500 Facebook users. What if there are dozens of such spam invaders? And then, in this whole crowd of people, there is also the opportunity to order targeted advertising.

3. Purchase a network of popular groups / communities

In 2014, one of the authors of this article saw with their own eyes how, in about an hour, a dozen groups such as “Interesting Vinnița” became a set of “Interesting Volînia” groups. The moderators wanted to receive orders for electoral agitation addressed to the residents of Volîn. It is clear that this did not in any way influence the outcome of the elections.


4. Blocking a top profile

Can’t find the profile of an acquaintance on Facebook or write messages to her and she doesn’t reply to you even though she was always a punctual person? It means she was blocked. Probably, he wrote something that was not to the liking of the russian trolls and they began to send complaints.

This tactic is widely used by trolls. An antidote to such situations are the backup profiles. The damage caused by a 30-day deadlock during the election campaign is significant enough for the trolls who will continue to use this tool.

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