Automating Credulity. The Digital Labor Behind Fake News and Propaganda
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, recent research has examined how unscrupulous politicians resort to content mills and click farms to influence the public opinion. Understanding how such specialized online services operate provides insights into the production process of fake content, malicious ads, and viral traffic for political messages. Interestingly, it also dispels the belief that disinformation is automatically spread by “bots”. On the contrary, much of the work is actually outsourced to developing or emerging countries, where it is performed by crowds of workers in exchange for remunerations as low as one cent or less per task. This new phenomenon highlights technological and industrial trends that, if left unaddressed, are bound to negatively affect arenas of public debate as well as labor rights.
Antonio A. Casilli is an Associate Professor at the Telecommunication School of the Paris Polytechnic Institute (Télécom ParisTech) and an Associate Fellow at the Critical Interdisciplinary Anthropology Center (LACI-IIAC) at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS, Paris). His main research foci are computer-mediated communication, work, and politics. In addition to several scientific publications in French, English, Spanish, Hungarian, and Italian, he is the author of En attendant les robots (Waiting for Robots, 2019); Qu’est-ce que le digital labor? (What is digital labor?, 2015); Les liaisons numériques (Digital relationships, 2010).