Machiavelli, Ponzi, and why social media's hype needs to be scrutinized.

The Prince is a vile read. But it is a good map of how this frontier is being run.

Do not cry about a temporary hit to Facebook's finances.

It reminds me of feudal systems where people had to pay tolls and other fees to function in a powerbroker's turf.

Social media destroyed the fabric of the old gate-keepers, who were absolutely stupid and unteachable. They memorized the little rule that they had power, never thinking that power can be challenged, weakened, and taken away. Billionaires are very disposable.

Don't ever kid yourself.

Dictators get slaughtered.

But the robber barons of social media made a lot of damage.

Yet we don't question the basics.

You know, for instance, how do we know the followers we have a real or just bots people buy to inflate their numbers?

How do we know we are getting hits?

We can be hidden or exposed on the whims of a tyrant, and never know it. We have people perpetually outraged about something on Twitter...

Yet how do we know they are real people? Maybe someone has fifty accounts. Maybe they are being paid to spread the hate.

In The Prince, these kinds of tactics were fair game: from destroying rivals (or now, their credibility) to inflating support by paying people to protest or make damage that gets blamed on a rival.

Meaning the actual numbers may just be a virtual Ponzi scheme.

Yet we just accept the narrative about the power of the Internet.

It is still all about the Benjamins: companies that advertise and pay for exposure, get more exposure, meaning what seems to be popular isn't.

Do I think everything on social media is a lie?

No, but the rigs pop out to me on numerous levels, and yet we give power to these sites in some belief we get some power and control in return.

Alliances and deals can be struck to keep certain voices out, for instance, or promote other voices that seem to be so-called "overnight sensations".

The landscape isn't being tested, questioned, or properly surveyed. Even with my own experimental dabbling, I find many problematic areas that need to be scrutinized.

But we don't have the kinds of information-gatherers who are willing to go up against these virtual barons.

And that's a big black hole hiding a wealth of facts we need to know right now...