RechtsLinks 24.4.2017: Milch-Bukkake in Berkley, Twitter-Bombs und The Age of Offence

Kurzer Nachtrag zur Milch: Ein „Free Speech-Aktivist“/wahrscheinlicher Trump-Supporter/möglicher 4chan-Troll mit Milch-Bukkake während der Straßenschlacht in Berkley. [update] Handelt sich bei der Milch wahrscheinlicher um Tränengaswegwischzeug, siehe Pics bei der Daily Mail.


Die NYTimes hat eine Umfrage unter Wissenschaftlern gestartet, ob ein bestimmtes Paper rassistische Elemente enthält und wie man den Autoren auf dem politischen Spektrum einordnen könnte. Das Ergebnis: Der Autor sei ungefähr Center und das Paper nicht weiter auffällig. Der Autor des Papers war Charles Murray, auf der Linken hart umstrittener Wissenschaftler und seit seinem Buch The Bell Curve dem scientific racism beschuldigt. Der sollte nun vor ein paar Wochen am Middlebury College in Vermont einen Vortrag halten – das Paper oben erwähnter Umfrage –, der von Aktivisten unter Protesten verhindert wurde:

Before Mr. Murray’s arrival on campus, an open letter to the college from several hundred alumni protested that his scholarly opinions were “deceptive statistics masking unfounded bigotry.” And when it came time for Mr. Murray to give his speech, which was based on his 2012 book, “Coming Apart,” an analysis of the predicament of the white working class in the United States, he was shouted down by student and faculty protesters. In chants they accused him of being a racist and a white supremacist. Some of the protesters became unruly and physically violent, forcing Mr. Murray to flee.

Das Ergebnis der Umfrage überrascht nicht:

American college professors are overwhelmingly liberal. Still, the 57 professors who responded to our request gave Mr. Murray’s talk an average score of 5.05, or “middle of the road.” Some professors said that they judged the speech to be liberal or left-leaning because it addressed issues like poverty and incarceration, or because it discussed social change in terms of economic forces rather than morality. Others suggested that they detected a hint of discontent with the fact that Donald Trump was elected president. No one raised concerns that the material was contentious, dangerous or otherwise worthy of censure.

We also sent the transcript to a group of 70 college professors who were told that the speech was by Mr. Murray. The 44 who responded gave it an average rating of 5.77. That score is significantly more conservative, statistically speaking, than the rating given by the professors unaware of the author’s identity (suggesting that knowing Mr. Murray was the author colored the evaluation of the content). Even still, 5.77 is not too far from “middle of the road.” […]

Our data-gathering exercise suggests that Mr. Murray’s speech was neither offensive nor even particularly conservative. It is not obvious, to put it mildly, that Middlebury students and faculty had a moral obligation to prevent Mr. Murray from airing these views in public.

Meanwhile in Deutschland: SZ: Anonyme Hetze gegen Professoren nimmt zu: „Die Präsidentin der renommierten Berliner Humboldt-Universität, Sabine Kunst, sieht darin eine Gefahr für die akademische Streitkultur und die freie Lehre. Sie will diese Diffamierungen nicht länger dulden. 'Hier soll der Diskurs über bestimmte Inhalte und die Arbeit einiger Hochschullehrerinnen und Hochschullehrer verhindert werden', warnt Kunst im Interview“.

In diesem Kontext auch Ira Wells von der Uni Toronto: Literary Review of Canada: The Age of Offence – The politics of outrage, and the crisis of free speech on campus:

Recent events in Canadian universities suggest not only that freedom of speech does not include the freedom to offend, but that those who position themselves as “offence takers” currently hold the balance of power at all levels of campus politics. […] Of course, at the precise moment when some academics were finessing a new vocabulary of microaggression—calibrating their social microscopes to make increasingly fine-grained distinctions between subtle forms of offence—Donald Trump was presiding over the indiscriminate demolition of the norms of civic discourse and an unprecedented coarsening of the public sphere. In mirror opposition to what was happening on campus, Trump has perfected what we might call a politics of macroaggression. […]

As it turned out, the diverse coalition of Trump skeptics—the unlikely confederacy of GOP insiders, neoconservatives, public relations professionals and leftists who were so certain of Trump’s defeat—had all stumbled into committing some version of what literary critics once called the affective fallacy. They presumed that voters, confronted with Trump’s boundless vulgarity, would feel what they felt, hear what they heard: a churlish demagogue spewing loathsome nonsense. Instead, what many voters heard—and apparently continue to hear—is an authentic appeal for liberty from a corrupt authority. The more Trump goaded his opponents into denouncing his latest outrage, the more evidence he appeared to garner of an institutionalized elite creeping ever further into the sovereign terrain of the private self. The actual execution was closer to performance art than a coherent political strategy, and its stunning effectiveness derived from the perfect continuity of media and message. It was Marshall McLuhan as rewritten by Huckleberry Finn: vulgarity is freedom.

We live in an age of offence. This is not to regurgitate the familiar claim that the internet enables more of what some consider offensive speech than was available in more innocent times. Rather, it is to recognize that offensiveness and offendability have emerged as our distinctive form of cultural literacy. Never has the taking of offence (and the performance of offended-ness) enjoyed more widespread cultural legitimacy.

Our current culture of offence taking has a history and a context. The capacity to recognize and name sources of injustice was constitutive of every progressive structural change in modern legal and political culture, from the elimination of Jim Crow to the institution of human rights laws to the liberalization of marriage. This basic impulse toward equity and social justice—harnessed by the civil rights, feminist and queer movements—was then nourished and informed by strands of post-­structuralist philosophy that emphasized the ­reality-shaping function of language. If a generation of undergraduates took anything away from “theory,” it is the notion that language does not passively reflect, but actively constructs our social environments, and that the old binary between speech and action is therefore suspect. Offence taking, as a habit of mind, combines the attention to historical injustice with a cognizance of the ways in which our apparently natural, inherited modes of communication can cause a kind of “innocent” violence. The culture of offence taking would disabuse us of this innocence. Thanks to overlapping strands in liberal education, social justice movements and digital media, we now have access to an increasingly rich vocabulary to identify, distinguish and denounce sources of injustice. As a direct result, offensive speech—a cavalier willingness to puncture the doilied sensibilities of political correctness—has acquired a new potency.

On the political left, the capacity to articulate outrage toward offence reads as a sign of progressive thinking: taking offence is a marker of cultural status. On the populist right, a willingness to offend manifests as a brave repudiation of orthodoxy, or as base-level authenticity. In our digital communities—what the social scientist Sherry Turkle calls the “online real”—how we situate ourselves in relation to the prohibitions against and injunctions toward offensive speech constitutes an inescapable facet of self-presentation. Those who take to social media to support Trump’s Muslim ban or Kellie Leitch’s “Canadian values” test portray sensitivity to offensive speech as a sign of elite decadence; the offence takers, in turn, often construe the mildest impropriety as a sign of crypto-fascism or incipient barbarism. A commitment to the force and reality of offensive speech thus unites the neo-Nazi with the gender studies major. It is a grammar that informs (consciously or not) their every Facebook post, every tweet, every public utterance.


Mark Little, Gründer von Storyful, über Fake News und eine neue vertrauensbasierte Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie: Here Comes Somebody: Journalism and the Trust Economy.

The war on disinformation is in danger of becoming a short-term marketing challenge for publishers, platforms, and policy makers. If you were serious about restoring truth and trust to public discourse, you would not start here. You would start with a recognition that the status quo is not working. The digital economy of news is bankrupt. Faith in journalism is critically undermined by an ad-based model of social distribution that rewards emotion over truth, reach rather than engagement. Short-term survival is inconsistent with long-term trust.

Let’s imagine the news business started from scratch. Assume that newsrooms no longer had to depend on broad appeal to a mass audience. The core metric of success for journalism was the value of the connection to the individual citizen. What would the digital economy of news look like if it was optimized for the trust of the end user?

The fake news crisis was never just about the supply of misinformation. It was about the demand for misinformation. Those who choose to focus solely on the primacy of facts have missed the underlying collapse of trust in journalism. The collapse of faith in journalism is part of a broader “implosion of trust” in public institutions. A loss of faith in trusted news sources reflects a rapid disintegration of consensus around previously self-evident values in society.

The foundations of social trust have been shaken by the clash of economics and psychology. Digital disruption has forced the human brain to adapt to an historic overabundance of information. But it also produced an economic model that penalizes trusted sources of information. […] The dispassionate voice of the journalist is often no match for the passionate voices that tell us we are right. Social media has allowed us to outsource our news supply to neighbors, friends, and family. Their recommendations are imbued with the feeling of authenticity that we crave. […]

The very best and the very worst in journalism gets bundled together in one demoralizing scroll optimized for a laugh, cry, scream, and ultimately share. Journalism is no longer the solution to the information overload. It is just another source of distraction. Rather than relieving the burden on our brains, it adds to it.

If your goal was the catastrophic erosion of trust in journalism then you could not design a more effective model than this.

If you started journalism from scratch, you would no longer trade on a fleeting connection with the crowd. You would monetize the value of deep, meaningful connections to individuals.

The phrase “here comes everybody” defined the first democratic awakening of the digital age. “Here comes somebody” should be the words we live in the new trust economy.


Guter Text von Klaus Raab in der TAZ letztes Wochenende: Die taz und die Neuen Rechten – Die Lügenpresse, das sind wir:

Ein entscheidender Punkt dafür, dass [die] Strategie [der AfD] verfängt, ist die Kritik, dass die eigene Erfahrung im Gesellschaftsgespräch keine Rolle zu spielen scheint. Erfahrungsberichte, oft Facebookposts, dutzendfach, hundertfach, tausendfach geteilt, wurden zu einer wichtigen Darstellungsform. Geschichten über die Angst vor Flüchtlingen, auf manchen Seiten auch „Fickilanten“ genannt, die deutsche Frauen vergewaltigen. Über solche, die ihre Heime selber anzünden.

Betroffenenbericht nannten Linke solche Erfahrungstexte früher. Oskar Negt, der Sozialphilosoph, erklärte in einem Interview 1982, warum solche Texte mal als wesentlich für eine linke Gegenöffentlichkeit galten: „Jeder, der etwas zu sagen hatte, suggerierte durch seinen Erfahrungsbericht Authentizität, einfach dadurch, dass er es sagte.“ Das gilt heute wieder.

Negt sagte auch: „Es war nicht die Frage, ob denn das nun verallgemeinerungsfähige Erfahrungen sind.“ Ein ähnliches Denken heißt jetzt „postfaktisch“ und gilt als Spezialdisziplin der Neuen Rechten, seit der erste AfD-Politiker argumentierte, mit Statistiken über die Kriminalität von Ausländern brauche man ihm nicht zu kommen. Entscheidend sei, was die Menschen fühlen.

Das ist zum Haareraufen. War das Richtige von damals falsch? Ist das Falsche von heute richtig? Das Problem ist: Die These, die Neuen Rechten seien die Achtundsechziger von heute, ist eine strategisch gesetzte Erzählung.

Die Identitären haben in dieser Auslegung die Rolle der neuen Spontis angenommen; sie werfen bei einem Kongress zum Protestjahr 1968 Flugblätter auf verdutzte Teilnehmer und klettern auf das Brandenburger Tor – wohlwissend, dass Fotografen anrücken, wenn man zu solch spektakulären Mitteln greift. Die rechte Initiative „Ein Prozent für unser Land“ betrachtet sich selbst als ein neues Greenpeace. Der rechte Intellektuelle Hans-Thomas Tillschneider behauptet, er werde für einen „neuen Dutschke“ gehalten.

Der Vergleich selbst ist eine Instrumentalisierung. Die Neuen Rechten bauen gezielt Brücken zwischen rechts und links, um anschlussfähig zu werden auch für jene, die nie mit der NPD marschieren würden. Das Ziel ist, dass ihre Themen dadurch salonfähig werden. Und es funktioniert.


Kate Starbird von der Uni Washington untersucht die Quellen von Verschwörungs-Clustern auf Twitter, hier ihr Medium-Artikel: Information Wars: A Window into the Alternative Media Ecosystem, Paper: Examining the Alternative Media Ecosystem through the Production of Alternative Narratives of Mass Shooting Events on Twitter (PDF)

Seattle Times: UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it:

Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these “strange clusters” of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach.

It features sites such as Infowars.com, hosted by informal President Donald Trump adviser Alex Jones, which has pushed a range of conspiracies, including that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a staged fake.

There are dozens of other conspiracy-propagating websites such as beforeitsnews.com, nodisinfo.com and veteranstoday.com. Starbird cataloged 81 of them, linked through a huge community of interest connected by shared followers on Twitter, with many of the tweets replicated by automated bots.

Infowars.com alone is roughly equivalent in visitors and page views to the Chicago Tribune, according to Alexa.com, the web-traffic analysis firm.


Neues Paper vergleicht Twitter-Bombs von 2010 mit dem Spread von Fake News 2016: The Fake News Spreading Plague: Was it Preventable? (PDF)

Abstract: In 2010, a paper entitled “From Obscurity to Prominence in Minutes: Political Speech and Real-time search” [8] won the Best Paper Prize of the Web Science 2010 Conference. Among its findings were the discovery and documentation of what was termed a “Twitter-bomb”, an organized effort to spread misinformation about the democratic candidate Martha Coakley through anonymous Twitter accounts. In this paper, after summarizing the details of that event, we outline the recipe of how social networks are used to spread misinformation. One of the most important steps in such a recipe is the “infiltration” of a community of users who are already engaged in conversations about a topic, to use them as organic spreaders of misinformation in their extended subnetworks. Then, we take this misinformation spreading recipe and indicate how it was successfully used to spread fake news during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

The main differences between the scenarios are the use of Facebook instead of Twitter, and the respective motivations (in 2010: political influence; in 2016: financial benefit through online advertising). After situating these events in the broader context of exploiting the Web, we seize this opportunity to address limitations of the reach of research findings and to start a conversation about how communities of researchers can increase their impact on real-world societal issues.

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