Social engineering is the art of social influence, or the science of influencing individuals, groups, and systems, typically through indirect means.

This can describe shaping opinion and influence on an interpersonal, small group, national, or even world-wide level, or it can be a statement on “hacking” using social means.

From a broad lens, social engineering is simply the use of social psychology, marketing, and other social influence tools to impact behavior and “bypass psychological and physical firewalls”. So, in its most mundane sense, it is something simple like a morale boosting speech or advertising. The morality of social engineering relies just as much on the morality and transparency of the tactics, as it does the message.

Terms like social engineering and propaganda get a bad reputation, but they are both simply calculated tactics to influence individual and social behavior. In this way, a politician’s speech, or a company’s press release or advert, is a form of social engineering and propaganda. Social engineering describes the tactics used, while propaganda describes a medium used to transfer the ideology behind the content.

In the world of cryptography and technology (an area of life that at times appropriated this term), social engineering simply describes a way of get around the need for brute force attacks by bypassing social firewalls rather than digital ones.

For instance, it would be easier to get into your spouses Facebook page by distracting them away from their computer with a convenient self-initiated phone call to their mom, rather than trying to guess their password. Your tactics were engineered with methods based in the social sciences, rather than technological ones, thus, this is a form of “social” “engineering”.

The show “Mr. Robot” uses social engineering, in the “hacker” sense, as one of its main themes (so it is a good place for a visual). With that in mind, any social influence technique that is meant to influence is a type of “social” “engineering” for our purposes. In other words, this section is about manipulating public opinion and social influence that use “social hacks” (like life hacks, but life hacks that hack other people).

Factoids tagged with "Social Engineering"

Hitler Was a Left-wing Socialist Liberal Myth

Hitler was a National Socialist (NAZI). National Socialism is a type of fascism. Although National Socialism had some socialist and left-wing planks, it is a unique authoritarian, militant, and nationalist ideology separate from socialism or liberalism that is generally considered “far-right.”

Fake News is Real Fact

“Fake news” is news meant to influence rather than provide pure information. It is real and as old as the printing press. However, only some of what is labeled as “fake news” is actually “fake.”

Lenin and Stalin are Real Names Myth

Neither Lenin or Stalin are real names. Vladimir Lenin was born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, and Joseph Stalin was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.

Saul Alinsky Was a Satanist Myth

Saul Alinsky wasn’t a satanist, nor did he dedicate Rules for Radicals to Lucifer. Alinsky simply used Lucifer as a literary device to teach community organizing.

Game Theory is the Science of Strategy Fact

Game theory is “the science of strategy,” a branch of mathematics that studies the strategy, rules, and statistics of decision making games and applies it to other fields.

On Average, People Naturally Obey Authority Fact

The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures (and related studies) show that, on average and under the right conditions, people will obey authority figures despite moral objections.

People Can be Truly Unbiased Myth

People can’t be truly unbiased; we are hardwired with bias and create bias constantly as part of the natural neurological process of learning.

Blog Posts tagged with "Social Engineering"

Types of Conflict Theories

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What is Criminal Virtue?

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National Populism and Deconstruction

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What is an Alternative Fact?

Alternative facts describe inconsistent sets of information submitted as plausible evidence for competing sides of a case/debate/argument.

Civil Religion

“Civil Religion” is the civic “religion” of a nation. It doesn’t describe the theological religion of a nation, but rather a quasi-religious shared identity built around national symbolism and customs.

The Origin of Politically Correct

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The Bed of Nails Principle

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What Does “Politically Correct” Mean?

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Arete Explained

Areté roughly means “moral virtue”. It refers to an innate “excellence” or “essence” in all things, and the striving toward that potential or purpose.

Conspiracy Theories Explained

Conspiracy theories are sets of one more speculative hypotheses, backed by fallacious reasoning, that suppose a conspiracy.