Direct, simple, easy to understand is best

11866398_1672522419647640_5523407606269786145_nTL;DR Summary

  • This poster uses humor and transference to get its point across.
  • The message is simple and direct.
  • If the target is other Democrats , it is good.
  • If the target is Republican primary voters, it is unlikely to be successful since they likely voted for Palin.

The poster was actually aimed at Democrat supporters the poster came from Occupy Democrats) – and successfully transfers their likely negative view of Palin to Scott Walker.

However, only Republican voters can vote out Scott Walker, thus this poster is a misfire. Republican primary voters seemed to have liked Palin so the comparison does not work as well as it does for Democrats; consequently, while the poster is good from a design standpoint, it appeals mostly to Democrats who will have no influence on the primary election (that occurred in 2016). From a propaganda perspective it is unlikely to achieve a useful goal of influencing Republicans who are the only ones who could vote Walker “in” or “out”.

Thus, the main purpose of this poster is to reinforce “tribal membership” among the target (Democrats) rather than have influence on Republican preference (or not) for Scott Walker.

Brexit ‘2nd Referendum Petition’ said to be a prank

The petition that was supposedly blasting through 3 million signatures 3 days after the Brexit vote, is acknowledged to have been filled with fraudulent signatures added by bots.

Source: EXCLUSIVE: Brexit ‘2nd Referendum Petition’ A 4 Chan Prank: BBC Report It As Real | Heat Street

The BBC has updated their news report to indicate the petition may contain “suspicious activity” and that fraudulently added signatures have been identified.

Fake news runs rampant thanks to social media enabling anyone and everyone to become a propagandist!

Fake news is always common after an “event”.  So far, we have:

  • The not really a spike, “spike in Brits searching for  What is the EU?” fraud
  • The fake 2nd referendum petition fraud

I have examples of similar frauds that have occurred during or after other events. Time permitting, I will post some of these soon – they illustrate how easy it is, particularly with social media, to bend reality and influence populations.

Euroskepticism is widespread in Europe

In the U.S. the propagandists are out in force, spinning the British non-binding referendum election vote to leave the EU.

The main propaganda messages in the U.S. are:

  1. The Brits who voted for the EU split are stupid, uneducated, unsophisticated, old white people.
  2. The Brits who voted for the EU are racist xenophobes (and have the same qualities as #1 too)

Update: Breathless news reports noted a spike in UK residents searching for “What is the EU?on Google, according to Google Trends. This, of course, confirmed the meme that the Brits who favored leaving the EU were stupid. Except the trend spike was caused by all of about ~1000 people doing a search. From this small number, the media generalized to all of Britain. From a propaganda perspective, this “fake news” (widely reported) set the tone, even though it was essentially a false news report.

There are other explanations – as Pew notes, below, a lot of people in Europe are displeased with the European Union:

The “stupid” and “racist” memes are the propaganda method of “name calling” and do not contribute to meaningful understanding or dialogue. But “name calling” is a surprisingly effective and simple way to motivate one’s followers (on social media) to adopt your agenda. (Of course, racism is an issue, but there are many potential issues at play. When we focus on one, highly charged item, such as racism, the propaganda aspect becomes apparent.)

Of course there are elements of truth in such statements – some people are not sophisticated and some are racist – which enables the target to generalize a subset into “the majority are dumb and racist”.

Pew Research finds that euroskepticism is high across the EU amid a feeling that the EU in Brussels is micromanaging the states and people of the EU, without listening to their input. In some countries, like Britain, the “right wing” disapproves of EU membership more than the “left wing”; but in other countries, it is the opposite. In Spain, the left wing is opposed to the EU while the right-wing supports the EU. In the U.S., we would probably call this a “states rights” issue.

Pew writes:

“Europeans are divided along ideological lines in their views of the EU, but this division is not a simple matter of left versus right in each society. In some nations Euroskepticism is a right-wing issue, in others it is a left-wing cause.”

Social media propaganda messaging is bombarding us on this topic, with posts, comments, likes and shares from people who may know little of the nuanced issues but who certainly have their own ideology to promote. Be very skeptical of what is crossing your social media timelines right now!

There is significant opposition in key European countries to an ever closer EU.

Source: Euroskepticism Beyond Brexit

Right or wrong, #Brexit is about leaders that stopped listening to their constituents. Personally, I have no idea what the British should have decided regarding this referendum nor should I – I am not British and do not live in Britain. This is their decision, for better or worse for all us, unfortunately.

Google shown to engage in censorship of online content

Google – the online search gateway to nearly all information today – engages in widespread censorship, including political censorship, says US News.

Censorship is a strict form of propaganda, to prevent you from obtaining alternative viewpoints or perspectives.

How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites?

Source: Google Is the World’s Biggest Censor and Its Power Must Be Regulated

We now know that most social media (Facebook, Twitter and Reddit specifically) routinely censor information and access to information on their platforms, including that of political speech.

A surprising System 1 style response to a social media propaganda meme

Most highly successful social media propaganda is visual, has few words, and is processed within seconds by the intended target, Liked and Shared, passing along the message to others. This is our System 1 quick, easy, intuitive thinking style in operation. In other words, we do not think, we respond at a gut or emotional level.

Much propaganda messaging can only be countered, typically, with logic and facts, which requires, slow thinking (System 2), which is hard and thus the correction to a propaganda meme is mostly ignored. “False facts” are therefore easily created by effective System 1 targeting in propaganda.

Recent floods on the Seine River in Paris were quickly blamed on “climate change”.

Someone responded with their own propaganda message using an effective System 1 approach. It is rare for a counterpoint to a social media propaganda item to be done so effectively and succinctly:



Thinking Fast and Slow author Kahneman, and creator of the “System 1 and System 2” thinking concept acknowledges that 11 of 12 studies cited in his chapter on “priming” were from weak studies. That chapter implied that “subtle cues in their environment can have strong effects on their behavior outside their awareness“. This does not mean his conclusions are wrong but that the evidence supporting his conclusions may be weak on the subject of “priming”. This acknowledgement is independent of the System 1/System 2 thinking style issues.

Social media peer pressure enforces conformity to group norms

If you want the tl;dr response, stop here: social media is a pretty effective mechanism for peer pressure. If you disagree, please consider how many temporary profile pictures have been updated on Facebook to red, white, and blue in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris (including perhaps your own). We know that online peer pressure is powerful. But what we don’t know is whether that pressure is driving real change.

Sharing your opinions and thoughts online is as simple as clicking a button. But you might want to hold off on clicking that button if your opinion or thinking differs from the at-the-moment sentiment sweeping through your social network. To do otherwise, might bring the ire of your connections, and with it ostracism from the group. While it has never been easier to share online, it’s also never been harder to share things that differ from public sentiment or to not offer an opinion in the wake of emotionally charged eventsPeer pressure, which was once categorically regarded as a negative driver of drugs and deviant behavior, has morphed to a broader expression of social pressure in online spaces and is more aligned with maintaining group norms.

Source: What Do Those Temporary Facebook Profile Pictures Really Mean?

(Emphasis added in bold face text)

The above was written after the attacks in Paris but is just as relevant today after the ISIS-affiliated attack in Orlando, Florida.

Peer pressure is the same as the propaganda method of “Get on the bandwagon” (or don’t be left out or off the bandwagon).

Let us re-emphasize the last point:

Peer pressure, which was once categorically regarded as a negative driver of drugs and deviant behavior, has morphed to a broader expression of social pressure in online spaces and is more aligned with maintaining group norms.

Not having an opinion on social media is the same as having the wrong opinion! There is no escape! You must have an opinion to, among other things, signal your virtue and membership in your social media groups!

Social media platforms degenerate from trivia to propaganda and censorship

If you have followed this blog, you understand social media has become a frictionless conduit for the spread of propaganda. Propaganda is messaging intended to encourage a target to take some action.

There are two sides to propaganda messaging – those promoting a propaganda message and those with opposing views. The strongest form of opposition is when platform operators directly censor third-party opinions. Normally, the answer to speech someone disagrees with, is more speech, not censorship.

Today, Reddit censored comments from those quoting published news reports, quoting the FBI – even banning posters from using Reddit. Large scale deletions of comments, factual in nature, were deleted. (Reddit confirms this occurred – see below for their response.)

Separately, Facebook reportedly shut down a 6 year old, 50,000 member group that advocates against “Islamification” (apparently this is a strongly anti-“Islam in the U.S.” group). (Their account has since been restored.)

Update: Allegedly even Twitter began censoring this topic.

Update 2:  Twitter blocked a gay conservative who voices strong views that upset many after making comments about Orlando shooting. (Since reinstated after online uproar to Twitter.)

Update 3: See the end of this post.

Social media has degenerated from useless trivia to propaganda and censorship.

Reddit has responded to their mass censorship today:

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Unknown conservative group creates fake poster to spread untrue meme

ConservativeNationPhotoTL;DR Summary


Photos are “re-purposed” all the time on social media. A photo of X is purported to be a photo of Y. We just posted another example of this a few days ago, where a 2003 photo of a USAF Thunderbird pilot ejection is passed along on social media as a photo of a recent USAF Thunderbird crash in June of 2016.

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General Patton and yet another fake historical quote

13330952_1790759907836562_3017976614172398876_nTL;DR Summary

  • Patton said “Liberal democrats are the lowest form of politicians”.
  • No, very, very unlikely he said that. It appears to be a combination of a quote from Patton (the first sentence) and a modified quote from President Harry S Truman (second sentence) who made a similar comment 4 years after Patton died.
  • This version of the poster (there are many versions) originates on a Facebook page titled “The Truth has no agenda” which is a conservative page with an agenda.
  • This propaganda item is in the generic meme of attributing fake quotes to historical figures, trying to use an appeal to authority or celebrity endorsement. We see this a lot – a whole lot – on social media.

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Social media viral nonsense and the story that never ends

FakeFBPhotoTL;DR Summary

  • Photo purports to show the ejection of a USAF Thunderbird pilot in Smyrna, TN in early June 2016. This photo had, in moments, been shared nearly 8,000 times on FB.
  • The photo is actually from a USAF crash in Mountain Home, ID in 2003 and the photo was taken by a USAF Airman. You can read about that actual incident here.
  • No one questioned the truthfulness of the photo – yet it took just seconds to locate the source of the photo.

Our Facebook news feed is filled, every day, with nonsense posts that few question, but instead, pass on to their friends. Soon, everyone’s news feed is filled with untrue nonsense that lives forever!

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