Social manipulation in internet memes: identification problems

Vol. 34 Iss. 2 pp. 1422 | St. Petersburg State Institute of Psychology and Social Work | ISSN: 1993-8101


The features of the concept "social manipulation" are analyzed. It is substantiated that most of the features are formulated with methodological errors, namely a distinct subjectivism in identification by mixing the particular (optional) and the general (attributive), interpretation of the general as unique. It is postulated that it is advisable to abandon the features of intentional impacts, their secrecy from the addressee, the personal benefit of an initiator, causing harm, skill in applying techniques, maintaining the illusion of choice, engaging the sphere of the unconscious, establishing control. A new understanding of social manipulation based on the concept of heuristic judgments developed by D. Kahneman and A. Tversky is proposed At the same time, social manipulations are considered as attempts of informational influence, expressed in stimulating other people to simplified, overly generalized and distorted judgments by bringing to the fore the atypical, non-essential or non-existent features of the phenomena under discussion, while ignoring the features necessary for balanced judgments. The manipulative potential of Internet memes is assessed. The article describes the procedures and results of the experiment on the material of Internet memes, which substantiates the redundancy of using many features in identifying social manipulations.

Structurally, the article consists of three components: substantiation of the need for a new look at social manipulation and the formation of its essence, description of Internet memes as a kind of “platform” for intensive manipulative influence on computer network users, as well as presentation of the procedures and results of the experiment to identify the key signs of social manipulation on the material of Internet news memes.


social manipulation, indications of social manipulation, Internet memes, Internet news memes, judgment heuristics, substitution, perception of social manipulation, experimental study


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