Thursday, July 22, 2021

Anti-Vaccination Obfuscation

One feature of online nut communities is the concept of hiding one's power levels- the notion, taken from Japanese manga/anime culture, that a superpowered protagonist would project a weaker image in order to fool an opponent into underestimating him-or-her.  The concept has taken root in the white nationalist movement, in which members realize that going mask-off neonazi will typically alienate 'the normies', those mundane people who aren't members of an online subculture.  

Much of this deception takes the form of using code to express catch phrases, using a cryptolect in which seemingly harmless terms, such as the number 1488 or the transformation of the 4Chan babytalk 'fren' being backronymed to signify far right ethno-nationalist.  By obfuscating offensive terms, those in the know can avoid content moderation on social media.  In this light, here is a developing cryptolect being formulated by anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists:

Most of these terms are pretty obvious, they operate on a sub-Cockney rhyming slang level. Other terms are more opaque, as detailed in this NBC story, and serve more as in-group signifiers than as means to redpill potential converts.  

The phenomenon is quite infuriating, if these people devoted as much time to conducting actual research using credible sources as they do to figuring out moderation workarounds, we wouldn't be in the situation we are mired in.


Ali Redford said...

And it seems there simply isn't any way to show them that it isn't only about them, it's about everyone who shares airspace with them. It is so frustrating!

Bruce said...

Is it possible to just be unsure?