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r/LoveForLandlords: A media psyop for Wall Street’s attack on mom and pop landlords

r/LoveForLandlords is a social media psyop meant to sow social division with familiar themes to other divisive propaganda.

r/LoveForLandlords is a social media psyop funded by big money to sow division between mom and pop landlords and tenants — and is quite revealing.

The subreddit is full of posts that are meant to mimic average landlords dehumanizing tenants. “Landlords” come together to gleefully share how they aggressively evicted tenants, how they can exact revenge and destroy tenants’ credit, and celebrate their tenants falling onto hard financial times (which seems counterintuitive considering that many small-scale landlords depend on rental payments to cover mortgages).

While there certainly are slumlords operating around the U.S., the legitimacy of this subreddit is hard to believe. It seeks to create a narrative that small scale landlords are in some kind of consensus that renters are to be exploited and abused.

Perhaps most notably, it mirrors the small-scale landlord-tenant stories run by mainstream media that vilify the entire small-scale landlord cohort.

That’s not to say that these stories aren’t true. But the degree to which the mainstream media find the most extreme examples of poor mom-and-pop landlord behavior and broadcasts them nationally serves a clear purpose: to make tenants resent landlords, and landlords to resent tenants. It’s a familiar playbook, one used keep the masses polarized in identity politics and deflect attention from those responsible for exponential wealth disparity.

New York Post story vilifying landlords

While landlord or renter horror stories are run regularly, what you won’t find in these headlines is stories of large-scale institutional investors evicting people left and right. Statistically, the more properties large scale landlords have in their portfolios, the more likely they are to evict tenants.

The omission is telling about the direction the narrative is pointing.

r/LoveforLandlord’s striking similarities to Incel radicalization tactics

What’s particularly striking about r/LoveForLandlord’s rhetoric is that is borrows heavily from the playbook used to spike incel forums with hatred and misogyny.

At their inception, incel forums were by and large, people who co-miserated about their struggles regarding being seen as sexual partners. It was more self help than it was hatred for women as it is now associated. This association is detrimental to both men and women. After all, there is nothing inherently wrong with someone who is not engaging in sexual activity wanting to do so.

But now, someone who is “involuntarily celibate” is associated with misogyny and hate crimes. This villifcation makes them particularly vunerable to the radicalizing rhetoric in these forums as their deepest insecurities now met with increasing backlash.

When it comes to media swaying the narrative, it’s all about creating associations.

The incel community wasn’t always about hating women. In fact, one of the first-ever incel communities was founded by a woman who herself, struggled with finding sexual partners. But seeing an opportunity to sow social division and keep the masses squabbling with each other, campaigns were launched to radicalize those who felt left out from the sexual pool by validating their insecurities and creating an “enemy” (women) at which to direct their hostility.

It worked. Leveraging feelings of anger and insecurity that stemmed from rejection and exclusion, the discourse between formally passive incels accelerated into full-blown hate speech that effectively brought real people into the fold en masse.

Since then, several mass shootings in the U.S. were fueled by misogynistic hatred, a commonality that rose with the rise of incel and Red Pill forums.

Given the success of these polarization tactics, r/LoveForLandlords seeks to replicate the strategy in creating tension between mom and pop landlords and renters.

For example: In an attempt to dehumanize women to the sexually frustrated incel community, psyop campaigners referred to women as “femoids.” Likewise, the “landlords” in r/LoveForLandlords refer to tenants as “rentoids.”

Additionally, Red Pill radicalization propaganda refers to men who are highly sexually successful with women as “Chads.” Likewise, the “landlords” on r/LoveForLandlords refer to themselves as “land Chads.”

A supposed conversation between landlords in the subreddit r/loveforlandlords
A supposed conversation between landlords in the subreddit r/loveforlandlords

At first glance, it would seem all these “landlords” are speaking the same language — that they all see themselves as “land Chads” and their renters and “rentoids.”

What makes it particularly hard to believe that this is organic discourse between real people and not an orchestrated psyop is that there isn’t much overlap between the landlord demographic and the incel community.

The cohort most susceptible to radicalized misogyny in online forums are men in the midst of their highest sex drive and most interested/fixated on having sexual relations with women. That would primarily consist of men in their teens and into their early thirties. Indeed, the most extreme cases of Red Pill radicalization seem to reflect this. Mass shooters who cited incel ideology as motivation tended to fall within this age range.

But demographically speaking, mom and pop landlords tend to be over 45 years old, well outside of the prime incel demographic. Yet somehow, coincidently, they seem to have unified in their language and conjugations. Not to mention, more than 40% of landlords in the U.S. are women, further raising questions about the adoption of this rhetoric within the landlord community.

It’s a strange coincidence unlikely to happen in a vacuum.

Perhaps the same group of people interested in polarizing gender dynamics is also interested in straining relationships between tenants and small scale landlords.

Interesting timing

It begs the question: Who’s behind all this? Is it possible that r/LoveForLandlords is in fact an entirely organic social movement?

The answer is, probably not — but these types of media psyops do effectively radicalize real people, as we can see with the rise of incel mass shootings.

Those who stand to gain the most from straining these social relations employ media agencies to influence the social discourse online. Social media may have decentralized the narrative once held consolidated and captive by cable news and publications, but those in power weren’t simply going to step to the sidelines.

Consider this: r/LoveForLandlords was founded in May 2020.

r/LoveForLandlords founded in May 2020

Around that same time, institutional investors began aggressively buying up residential properties and driving up the costs of housing. Reports flooded in of buyers bidding 20, 30% above asking price. Wall Street had monopolized the stock market, and was looking to new horizons. The real estate market still had a large number of average citizens holding real assets, assets Wall Street longed to add to their already burgeoning portfolio.

According to subreddit stats, the sub kit the ground running with over 750 accounts, and the forum gained 1300 subscribers overnight. That’s unusual growth for the first 24 hours of a sub — unless bot accounts are employed. The users on the forum were 6,700% as likely as the other Redditors to have posted in r/averageredditor, a forum that the platform eventually banned for posting harassing and hateful content intended to depict Redditors as dumb, hateful slobs and for posting content associating the LGBTQ+ community with pedophiles. They are more than 1700% as likely to post in r/gme_meltdown, a subreddit that was born of the GameStop run up of January 2021 that zealously depicts GameStop shareholders as moronic hype chases and slanders the shareholders’ due diligence posters.

In fact, according Federal Reserve data, the quarter that immediately followed the founding of r/LoveForLandlords was the first data point in the beginning of an exponential incline in the costs of housing.

Federal reserve data

So they ran the playbook. First, a media campaign to villainize the people standing between them and monopolizing the housing market: Mom-and-pop landlords.

Create fake social media conversations and forums — enter r/LoveForLandlords — to create a perception among renters that landlords resent them and that they are the enemy. Easy enough: contract media and publicity firms to do this work. Cambridge Analytica did this type of work to sway elections. HBO’s The Hater is a dramatization of a true story about one such media firm, contracted to stoke outrage and sow division, eventually leading to the 2019 assassination of mayor Pawel Adamowicz in G’dansk, Poland. Understanding that these types of firms exist is critical to understanding how those in power have continued to control the narrative in the age of social media.

r/LoveForLandlords is almost certainly a product of these types of firms, likely contracted by those seeking to gain a larger share of the residential housing market in order to “grow the bottom line.”

Vanguard Group Inc.

Interestingly, Vanguard Group Inc. seems to have vested interest interest in both radicalizing the incel movement AND creating tension between mom-and-pop landlords and their tenants.

Vanguard Group Inc has been buying up residential housing, and seeks to grow its market share. Vanguard is the largest shareholder in Invitation Homes, the largest institutional investor in residential homes in the country. Invitation Homes is just one of dozens of real estate “investment groups” that buy up residential real estate (i.e., housing) to convert them into rentals.

Vanguard is also no stranger to manipulating the narrative. The Vanguard group is also quite heavily invested in media companies which it leverages to sway public sentiment in its favor.

media organizations and the wealthy people and organizations that own them

Of course, contracting a media agency to artificially create “social discourse” online to radicalize groups is something that would not require reporting or public disclosure.

Yet the alignment of incentives — and tactics used within both the incel movement and r/LoveforLandlords — shouldn’t be and difficult to ignore.

 

 

 

Author

  • Jack Tazman is a Baltimore, Maryland native. He attended Washington University where he studied political science. Since then, he worked as a writer for various national news organizations specializing in politics and policy. He now resides in New York City as a freelance writer and political consultant.

1 Comment

  1. this is very well researched! It truly is a shame how they come after people that can barely afford a second holiday home, while the big fish roam free

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