Commander Spock and the Internet

In 1966 when Star Trek first hit the air it was an amazing and fanciful look into the future of technology and space travel. One of the most beloved crewmembers on the ship was Commander Spock. He used his Vulcan Mind Meld to impart his wisdom on crew members and enemies alike. Spock used his mind control for good, but today we see a sickeningly real ability to do what seemed as impossible as having an alien crew member in the 60’s.

Bloomberg Businessweek put out an article last month called “How to Hack an Election”. In it Andrés Sepúlveda came clean on rigging elections in South America and Mexico for decades. We hear about “hacking” and tracking “metadata” that’s so scary all the time, and it really has become quite overwhelming what the internet can be used for in the wrong capable hands. But in this article Sepúlveda admits to tactics far more disturbing to me than stealing my bank account info or tracking my e-mail.

In his dialogues, Sepúlveda talks about using social media to literally warp the reality of a targeted population. To influence some of the elections Sepúlveda would create thousands of fake social media accounts and spread misinformation in such high volume that it would start to seem to be the mainstream view. Always showing the most popular topics, social media would pop this information up in front of the faces of anyone who may have had an interest in the area. Even if the user disagreed with what the posts were saying, seeing this all the time implanted in the users that this must be what everyone else thinks.

Without getting into psychology, you can see where I’m going with this. As generations get sucked deeper into the web of social media, continue to remind them to be mindful and cautious using these products for information gathering. Sepúlveda’s confession exposes just how powerful these sites are in shaping our perception of reality. Mind control seemed like a crazy science fiction ploy that would never occur, yet here we are and it doesn’t take a telepath to do it; it’s done with the cell phones and computers we use every day. So next time you or someone you know is getting worked up over what they see on their news feed, remind them to step back and make sure real life is playing a role in their mindset too.

Here's a link to that article if you’re in the mood to be freaked out:

Live long and prosper,

Wesley R. Nicholson, Mike Allen and Aaron Everdyke

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