Epistemic Security Risks

I started bringing this to the attention of my LinkedIn colleagues through my Sunday debate and like me a lot of people were not familiar with it. Although a newish term for most, epistemic security is something relatively new and has come about through the development of social media and the ease of information sharing. It is a mixture of misinformation, disinformation and out right lies, usually used by rogue state actors or group with either a political, social or business agenda. It can be used by parties and businesses to create doubt about other businesses and people.

Why is this important to know about, well, most of the online activity is blindly shared with others through a mis-click, a link being distributed or through a friend liking something so you assume it is ok. Social media forms opinions, like it or not, you open an app and you are bombarded with masses of information and opinion and the information you read is not always correct or entirely factual.

Lets start with our online habits. The algorithm of the social networking sites and internet sites are thwart with AI (artificial intelligence) which monitors and creates a detailed profile or what you view, look at and even hover over for a couple of seconds. They will know which political party you align with, what websites are of interest to you and what your other interests are. This leads to targeted advertising for products and services which flash up on your socials, try comparing your Instagram to a friends and you will see that no two are really the same in respect to advertisements or products.

The important part of this is as before is the misinformation that is out there and what you are shown and who put it out there can come from a nefarious source or just blind click-norance (click-norance is my new word for blindly sharing information without a thought for likes and traffic)

Why is it a danger?

It is a danger because with the freedom of information and no real controls means you tend to believe what you read and believe what you see. I mean a story from the news or social media is 100% factually correct isn't it!! It really isn't, you have to realise that there are varying degrees of shock and awe to compel viewers to continue watching or click, and the stories are usually one sided with a message to influence and direct your opinion. For example, Heineken the Dutch lager firm had been spreading rumours in bars across the US about Corona Beer being fermented with urine. This coupled with the manufacturing reputation in Mexico at the time created a massive loss in revenue, this was 1986, so imagine how hard it was to correct this misinformation! Let me just say the smartness of this "rumour" was not new from the brewing industry. Back in 1742 it was actually a thing called leinting! This was a very cunning and very (very) slightly factual piece of misinformation being spread, which cost Corona millions in revenue and their manufacturing processes did not include leinting! But people bought into it because of misinformation, very little fact checking and it being from a trusted and reputational source made it "factual" .

Now I move on to my take on what I call the Sheeple effect, where on social media there is a lot of information, even more misinformation, and not a lot of fact checking. People generally believe what they read on the web to be gospel truth, and with one click of the button, it is liked and shared millions of times. As more people like and share, the genuine belief it is real now makes it real and the sheeple will share and click and like.

Be careful what you believe and what you share and like, try to fact check if you can and remember that shock and awe is usually compelling you to act a certain way. If you keep this is the back of your mind then hopefully you will be more mindful when you click.



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