The $TSLAQ block list, maintained by Paul D. (who goes by Machine Planet on Twitter) is a list of over 6000 Twitter accounts that have at any point indicated any positive feelings about Tesla. A single tweet or a single like could be enough for your account to get added to the list.
The block list is a crucial tool in the $TSLAQ disinformation campaign. By subscribing to the list, leaders of this anti-Tesla campaign are able to ensure that victims of their fraud do not see any information that would cause them to question the messaging they are being fed –– messaging likely crafted carefully to maximize the value of the leaders’ stock market and stock option market bets, at the expense of victims who end up losing most of their life savings, or more, based on the false narratives they were fed.
In addition, the block list allows them to create threads full of anti-Tesla, anti-Electric Vehicle, and anti-Elon Musk sentiment without any alternate viewpoints diluting the ostensible unanimous agreement that Tesla is a complete fraud. Any unsuspecting Twitter user that stumbled on the thread would see a completely one sided discussion, and have no idea that anyone who might point out the inaccuracies had been shut out of the discussion.
The psychological effect is powerful, as humans are wired to form beliefs based on the apparent consensus of others. This effect is derrived from the natural human need to conform and be liked by others in a social environment. Since humans need to work together to survive, this instinct to conform to one another is hard wired into our brains. Organizers of disinformation campaigns take advantage of these natural instincts to brainwash you in subtle ways every time you check your phone.
We as a society are still grappling with how to deal with social media and misinformation. Hopefully one day we will learn more about this disinformation campaign and exactly who orchestrated it. We know that short sellers, hedge funds, Volkswagen employees and affiliates, foreign nation states and random fools are all working together, but the full nature of this disinformation campaign may not be understood for years.
Research on Echo Chambers
If you’re interested in the weaponization of viral information, you might like looking through this academic paper on the subject:
The viral spread of digital misinformation has become so severe that the World Economic Forum considers it among the main threats to human society. This spread have been suggested to be related to the similarly problematized phenomenon of “echo chambers”, but the causal nature of this relationship has proven difficult to disentangle due to the connected nature of social media, whose causality is characterized by complexity, non-linearity and emergence. This paper uses a network simulation model to study a possible relationship between echo chambers and the viral spread of misinformation. It finds an “echo chamber effect”: the presence of an opinion and network polarized cluster of nodes in a network contributes to the diffusion of complex contagions, and there is a synergetic effect between opinion and network polarization on the virality of misinformation. The echo chambers effect likely comes from that they form the initial bandwagon for diffusion. These findings have implication for the study of the media logic of new social media.Echo chambers and viral misinformation: Modeling fake news as complex contagion Petter Törnberg