Propaganda, censorship, and surveillance are attributes of the same underlying aspect: Monopoly. Centralised control.

All three problems have the same effective solution: Break up the monopolies.

Propaganda is a function of amplification, attention, audience capture, selective promotion, discovery, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and coöption of the platform. Propaganda is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Censorship and Gatekeeping are functions of excludability, audience gating, selective exclusion, obfuscation, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and, again, coöption of the platform. Censorship is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Surveillance whether of the state, capitalist, or non-state actor varieties, is a function of population and provider capture, coercion or gatekeeping of vendors and pipelines, and, again, coöption of the platform. Surveillance is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Audiences, a public, divided across independent networks, with access to different editorial selection, from different distribution networks, with access to different input message streams, are far less subject to propaganda, censorship, or surveillance.

It's importance to realise that the key is not nominal control but actual control, which may be nonobvious or unapparent to many participants. A system with appearances of decentralisation may well be centralised under the surface. Retail brand labels vs. brand ownership, or Luxottica's stranglehold over the eyeglasses market, for example, give a false sense of "consumer choice" in a case of actual tight corporate control.

And why is this? What's the fundamental connection between monopoly and control? Control is about maximising desired outcome to applied effort. In monopoly, there is a central focus of influence, the monopolist. Even a very partial controlling share can still be effective. In a first-past-the-post majority scenario such as elections or corporate share ownership, the bloc which swings the majority has control, even if it itself is numerically a minority. In markets, networks, organisations, etc., a single place to permit or deny input or output increases control by decreasing effort and increasing effect.

Shout-outs to Cory Doctorow (@pluralistic -- a great profile to follow, and pluralistic.net), Matt Stoller (mattstoller.substack.com/?no_c), Lina Khan (yalelawjournal.org/note/amazon), Zephyr Teachout (bookshop.org/books/break-em-up), and others breaking through some seriously Borked chickenshit thinking on this topic.

news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2

@dredmorbius @pluralistic For progaganda I’m not sure. There’s a lot of propaganda going on in Telegram groups without monopoly control. It’s more that people who want to spread a message have a lot of power over what we see.

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@ArneBab What if any amplification does Telegram have? Is there algorithmic selection / curation?

What is the effect or impact of that propaganda?

Some platforms are effective at developing memes (famously the chans -- 4chan, 8chan, 8kun, etc.), but don't have external reach. For that they would piggyback on larger distribution networks: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, etc., most of which have an engagement-tuned algorithmic amplification dynamic.

That mix of reservoir / breeding pool + amplified distribution is particularly effective.

@pluralistic

@dredmorbius @pluralistic I don’t know about amplification from Telegram. I mostly read about private groups where anything goes. I see similar from WhatsApp: People get added and once they are in, propaganda is interspersed with normal communication and bit by bit tuned up. It was advertised as WhatsApp alternative and for some reason it got a lot of takeup by right-wing groups.

I remember that I saw people calling for use of Telegram, because it would not get censored.

@dredmorbius @pluralistic Some kind of breeding ground to keep people pulled in.

The effect is that people get radicalized. It seems that Telegram is well-suited for strategic messaging to smaller groups. But I did not use it yet, so I don’t know *why*.

@dredmorbius @pluralistic But I have an idea why this happens: Stuff from typical news sources isn’t easy to share (some is even behind paywalls, most cannot be one-click shared so that it is completely accessible in the other medium), so media that’s optimized for sharing gets a much stronger boost. That gives those a boost who want to spread messages — as opposed to those who just want to share non-annoyingly with friends.

@ArneBab @dredmorbius @pluralistic I would be surprised if Telegram did any kind of amplification/content filtering as a corporation (they certainly have moderated channels and all that, though).

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