What are some examples of Strategic Amplification in Mass Media?
Strategic amplification is a technique that refers to magnifying a small detail or story in media in a way that makes it appear more significant than it actually is and distorts the perception of the general public. It is especially associated with conservative, racist, anti-feminist, conspiracy theory, and other right wing groups. It has been a tactic widely used in Russian disinformation campaigns in the 2016 United States elections. The essence of strategic amplification is coordinated campaigns to change the contents of the news cycle.
An excellent example of strategic manipulation is the growth of the term "crisis actor." In response to mass shootings, especially of school children, legitimate journalists are concerned with how the wide availability of guns in the United States has led to a crisis of gun violence and the tragic affects of gun violence on families. Opponents of gun control have injected the term "crisis actors" into the debate in order to shift focus from the tragedy of dead children to wild conspiracy theories about school shootings being faked.
Another classic case of strategic amplification was Gamergate, in which the initial discussion over an alternative video game became overshadowed by a flood of attacks, doxxing, and even death threats against female gamers and game developers. Responsible reporting on misogyny in gaming was countered by floods of propaganda investigating the dating habits of a female game developer and repeated amplification of any criticism of misogyny as an example of "social justice warfare". This worked in part by amplifying a few examples of the existence of female game developers without noting that the majority of developers remain male.
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