What is the real distribution of various attitudes or opinions across social media? A lesson from social psychology gives reason to believe that people, with negligible exceptions, assess and navigate socially on the basis of what other people express to believe or know. This is in line with the principle of social proof (Cialdini 2009) – referring to the group dynamics that are created when people make decisions upon what they believe other people believe or know. While social proof is signal-based, the reason for the signal may be hidden: When somebody expresses something on a digital platform, different digital expressions are available such as “Like”s, becoming a “follower,” sharing of content, up‑votes, and comments. But in the digital world, it is not always obvious that liking or sharing something articulate endorsing what is liked or shared. The motives can be different from person to person, and sometimes if content is auto-generated by fake profiles then motives may not exists. Signals – however – do persist.
Ethical Basis of Human Security: Towards Renewal of Peace Operations Training, 2017, p. 26-34