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Snared in the net

Попавшие в сети

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The epoch of “fakes”

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Reflect for a moment—what does the Internet mean to you? Is it a space for communicating and enjoying pastimes? An information source? Something else? Well, there are people out there who view the World Wide Web as a weapon for inflicting psychological impact!

Manipulators target separate individuals (in the case of so-called targeted attacks) as well as broad masses of people. Specific weapons and even mercenaries are used to carry out such attacks in a virtual environment.

One weapon used by online manipulators is “fakes”. These are fake accounts (in social networks and portals, usually in the media) created in bulk quantity (both manually and with the help of special programs) and managed by real people for a fee.

A fake account “lives” a life of its own, mimicking the behaviour of real users. Fakes click on “like” buttons, post texts (usually generated for them with special programs), cast votes, etc.

Fakes are used to:

  • Block the account of an “undesirable” user – this occurs when fake accounts send multiple complaints to the account of an unwanted person, and the administration of the resource involved blocks that person’s account.
  • Promote an account or group – this is when supposedly dozens of people, who in reality do not exist, praise a product, service, idea, or event. Going by the number of followers an account has to determine the popularity of a group, many “simple souls” (a term used in Mikhail Romm’s film Ordinary Fascism) mindlessly “like” (i.e., become real followers of) groups suffering from click fraud, playing into the hands of the manipulators, albeit unconsciously. There already exist situations of website administrations creating fake accounts to communicate with real community members, allegedly on behalf of strangers.
  • Discredit a person or a group – these are special kinds of fakes that are exact replicas of celebrity web pages. As a rule, they are designed to discredit or troll someone.
  • Trolling – in terms of psychological impact, trolling is the ultimate activity, the most highly paid effort of online manipulators. It requires creativity, knowledge of the victim’s weaknesses, an ability to push people’s emotional buttons and tap into their cynicism and lack of compassion—it’s not personal, just business. None of the trolls works from a legitimate account; they always use fake ones.

All of the mercenaries working for Internet manipulators get money for their “work”, which means that there are those who pay them for doing this, and those for whom the manipulation is a profitable affair.

Dr.Web recommends

For some reason, some people believe that they can do anything on the Internet, and that’s why the state is not obliged to regulate it. That’s as stupid (and dangerous) as demanding that traffic regulations be done away with!

Be careful when communicating on the Internet — it requires one to be no less discerning than in real life. After all, you wouldn’t go down a dark street without knowing where it leads, let alone go down it with just anyone, so why would you “friend” an unknown person you have never seen and are unlikely to ever see?

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