“News is Toxic”: News is killing your ability to think clearly #SocialMedia #Propaganda #Media

But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking.

Key points from the column:

  • News misleads.
  • News is irrelevant.
  • News has no explanatory power.
  • News is toxic to your body.
  • News increases cognitive errors.
  • News inhibits thinking.

People who stop following the news are able to think more clearly and lead happier lives.

Source: News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier | Media | The Guardian

The next post – coming soon – looks at the trivial nonsense reporting now coming from the Texas flood disaster as reporters spin the story in multiple and pointless directions.

All of these reports are emotional in nature and designed for sharing on social media. Pointlessness.

Did a Federal law make U.S. Civil War Confederate solidiers the equivalent of U.S. veterans? No.

This past week, my Facebook news feed showed a shared item that claims Confederate soldiers of the U.S. Civil War were declared as “U.S. veterans by an Act of Congress”.

Not exactly. In fact, most of this claims is false.

Snopes.com explains that this is mostly false.

This item works as social media propaganda because it appears to cite what sound like legitimate sources for the information (an appeal to authority). The item also appeals to patriotism (U.S. veterans) and the use of transference (Congress said they are U.S. veterans so therefore, they should be treated the same).

However, the alleged Congressional acts either do not exist or refer to something different. The alleged “last Confederate veteran” who died in 1958, was a fraudster who was not an actual veteran. In reality, the last actual Confederate soldiers died in 1959.

This is just a propaganda meme that is mostly not true, but sounded convincing to many.

Google is a propaganda company that really does spy on you, more than you know

But Google is, first and foremost, an advertising company and its largest product is a targeted advert service, which it sells to the biggest brands in the world.

Billions of annual web searches, location and email data allow it to target the population with specialised marketing – and there is no reason why it couldn’t do the same with your voice data, too.

Source: How Google is secretly recording YOU through your mobile, monitoring millions of conversations every day and storing the creepy audio files

Google’s business is advertising – to persuade you to purchase a product or service, to support someone’s policy choices, to adopt someone else’s agenda.

The business of Google is propaganda, broadly defined.

Google is very effective at this because Google knows nearly everything about you. They store enormous amounts of data about you, including erroneous information – and there is no way to correct the erroneous information they have collected or interpreted.

  • Google scans your emails – Google knows what you’ve bought online (thanks to email confirmations of your purchases). Google knows when you’ve bought or sold a home or stocks (due to email confirmations).
  • Google knows where you have traveled to, where you stayed, what businesses you stopped at – yes, they log all of this. If you have Location services on, on your phone, Google tracks all of your activity. From this, Google can determine, for example, that you have stopped at many espresso coffee shops.
  • Google voice, used to transcribe text messages, stores all of your voice recordings and text messages in the Google cloud. Ostensibly this is used by Artificial Intelligence algorithms to improve their voice recognition capabilities. (Similarly, every time you are tagged in a photo on Facebook, Facebook uses that to improve automatic facial recognition software so that FB can automatically identify you in photos – or perhaps real time surveillance video camera images.)
  • Google stores your entire Chrome web history (even if you delete the history in Chrome it remains stored at Google).
  • Of course, Google also backs up your contact list, calendar, apps and app data from your device.
  • Google logs each time you use an app on your Android phone.
  • Google also stores erroneous information. Because my email address at Google is a simple one, many people with a similar name mistakenly enter my email address rather than their own address which is typically a variation of mine. Consequently, I receive erroneous emails about my alleged purchase of a Mercedes Benz, a BMW, an Apple computer, DISH network services, CenturyLink communication services and so on. I have also received other people’s notice of discontinuation of services due their failure to pay their bills.Google likely thinks I am a deadbeat because they have no way of knowing that those emails are erroneously sent to me due to email address mistakes by others.
  • Google stores vastly more invasive information about you than the NSA.

Google stores all this data and performs extensive data analysis on all aspects of your life in order to target advertising to you. Literally, Google has created a massive and detailed dossier of your life, plus they include erroneous information. There is no way to correct erroneous information in the Google dossier.

You can, should and MUST delete this data log. To delete this data, log in to your Google account and go to this Google page and hack away.

After looking at the history Google has recorded, I will be getting  rid of as much Google as I can. I am no longer comfortable using Google services.

For many of us this is tough – once you have given out your email address to friends and businesses and online web sites and services, we may literally have dozens or hundreds of places we need to change our email address. For many this can be a lot of work.

 

TV news focuses on political outrage and selling eyeballs to advertisers

TV audiences can’t get enough news coverage of Donald Trump. Reporting on pretty much anything else is ratings poison.

Source: Broadcast News Misses Ratings Bonanza With Too Little Trump – Bloomberg

This year I had a chance to travel to several U.S. states. Among all the people I met, politics was avoided. Most seem fed up with politics and the purveyors of politics and definitely fed up with the culture of perpetual outrage.

Media targets a narrow demographic of the perpetually outraged that eats this up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then shares their outrage on social media, with links to the “news”! And then the outraged come back for more!

Print publishers and broadcasters are counting the clicks – and outrage sells eyeballs to advertisers. They know what they are doing.

As noted before, “emotional hooks” are a powerful way to promote anything. When we are “emotionally engaged” we tend to stop thinking and are more susceptible to advertising messages (another form of propaganda).

Consequently, it is in the interest of media to imply politics is the only thing that matters in life as it riles up the perpetually outraged into a frenzy of emotion and social media outrage and sharing. All the better to sell stuff!

(Disclaimer – We don’t have cable TV, satellite TV, over the air antenna or a subscription to Internet TV service – we don’t watch TV news!)

As tech companies regulate speech, will they lose their safe harbor? | Coldstreams

Cross posted from my Internet of Things/Technology blog.

Tech companies have argued they are not and cannot be held responsible for speech, including defamatory speech, hosted on their platforms. Now they are specifically removing some types of speech, implying they can and do have the ability to control speech on their platforms, and therefore, may find themselves losing their “safe harbor” defense against defamatory speech.

Source: As tech companies regulate speech, will they lose their safe harbor? | Coldstreams

Social media outrage mob falsely accuses professor of racism, calls for his firing

Social media outrage led to amateurs falsely identifying a University professor as participating in the Charlottesville, VA mob, leading to people publicly calling him a racist and calling upon the university to fire the professor of engineering.

He was verified and confirmed at University event 1,100 miles away at the time of the riot. Imagine if this happened to any of us – and we did not happen to be at an event providing us with an alibi.

Social media is a platform for hate – and not just the racists and their evil, but also the hatred that emerges from the outrage culture leading to venomous attacks on innocent individuals and groups. Social media – Facebook, Twitter – are leading to the downfall of civilized society.

No they didn’t: “2 Florida students find 6 NASA space suits worth up to $20,000”

Headline says “space suits“. Lead photo shows astronauts in space suits.

But they actually found blue coveralls worn by some Shuttle astronauts, not “space suits”. The headline is fiction.

Source: NEW: 2 Florida students find 6 NASA space suits worth up to $20,000

Clicks always outrank accuracy. Journalism has becoming a whopping joke of bull shit.

The web URL for this web site may be changing

I originally hosted this on my own virtual server at social.coldstreams.com.  I chose to stop self hosting because:

  1. The self hosted WordPress software, themes and plug ins required an endless stream of software updates, taking up much time since I hosted 4 blogs.
  2. Google decided to force web sites to use https security by pushing sites using http way down in search results. This requires purchasing, on an annual basis, a security certificate. Because I put my blogs on subdomains (social.coldstreams.com instead of coldstreams.com/social) this required that I purchase 4 separate security certificates to implement https, which becomes expensive. I did purchase one certificate and went through the process of converting an http site to https – while straightforward, this turned out to be quite time consuming.
  3. After moving the blog to WordPress.com, we see noticeably faster response time. Speed of response is also a factor used by search engines in ranking the search results. (Speed is faster on a huge server infrastructure like wordpress.com versus a virtual server hosted on a single server in Washington State.)

Unfortunately, Google also degrades search ranking for sites hosted on services like wordpress.com and using a generic xyz.wordpress.com web address. When hosted on social.coldstreams.com, this blog received most of its traffic as a result of search queries using Google, Bing and so on. As in hundreds of visits per day coming from search queries. By comparison, since I moved this to wordpress.com, the search query traffic collapsed to fewer than ten visits per day.

The solution is to set up a custom domain name for the blog causing search rankings to move up higher at Google and other search services.

This discovery illustrates the immense power that search engines have over access to information – and how they can control your thoughts by restricting access to information. This becomes a form of propaganda messaging – literally cherry picking what you see.

I do not yet know what URL I will use for this blog. However, it is likely that once it is implemented the existing Facebook page links back to this blog will no longer work. It is unlikely that I will fix the old links. New posts will be correctly linked, of course.

Eating too much protein will kill you? No, but it grabs the emotions and gets shared on #socialmedia!

Eating too much protein will kill you? That’s the message left by hundreds of headlines and news stories earlier this week. But the statement was misleading at best and untrue in regards to the individual who died. Yet most stories ran with quotes like this:

Meegan Hefford, a mother of two and bodybuilder, died after an overconsumption of protein shakes, supplements and protein-rich foods.

Source: Bodybuilder mom dies from too much protein before competition | New York Post

or “That Extra Scoop of Protein in Your Shake Might Actually Kill You

The family is calling for government regulation of “protein shakes or supplements”, presumably to require a doctor’s prescription and be dispensed at a pharmacy.

Many news stories about this event imply that eating too much protein will kill you. Which it can, if you too suffer from a rare medical disorder. She had a genetic disorder that caused her body to fail to remove ammonia from the blood stream. That’s what killed her.

The disorder is “urea cycle disorder“:

is a genetic disorder caused by a mutation that results in a deficiency of one of the six enzymes in the urea cycle. These enzymes are responsible for removing ammonia from the blood stream. The urea cycle involves a series of biochemical steps in which nitrogen, a waste product of protein metabolism, is removed from the blood and converted to a compound called urea in the blood. Normally, the urea is transferred into the urine and removed from the body. In urea cycle disorders, the nitrogen accumulates in the form of ammonia, a highly toxic substance, resulting in hyperammonemia (elevated blood ammonia). Ammonia then reaches the brain through the blood, where it can cause irreversible brain damage, coma and/or death.

Men’s Health got the story correct. Days later some of the other headlines morphed into the accurate “Australian mom with rare disorder dies eating high-protein diet“.

The media spun this into a viral fiction suitable for sharing on social media. When push comes to ad revenue, the media pays lip service to accurate reporting: It’s about the clicks and the social media shares. One writer says the media was straight up lying about this story to sell ads (I agree).

To make this work for them, the media down played or censored the rare disorder aspect of the story (censorship, cherry picking). If it is mentioned, it is mentioned in passing or at the end of the article. As shown on our blog, most people only read the headlines (especially those shared on social media) – the headline is the story.

The report – which comes from Australia and has no importance to people in the United States – became a focus because of multiple hooks:

  1. “eating too much protein” puts fear into everyone that this could happen to them (use of fear)
  2. Story involves a 25 year old Mom of two kids (stories about Mom’s with young kids target an emotional response),
  3. The victim was a 25 year old blonde fitness fanatic (she’s cute). You may have noticed that CNN and FOX generally *only* cover “cute lost white chicks”, sometimes for days and weeks on end – yet nearly a million people go missing every year and most are eventually found. But unless the missing are cute or have some other emotional hook attached, there is no news coverage and certainly no national news coverage. The subject’s cuteness is a prime reason for the story to run in the United States (every version of the story I checked had at least one and sometimes many photos of the victim). Heck, this one, with its outrageous fiction headline has five photos of the cute victim! And to further prove the point, the 12 year old story of missing Natalee Holloway is back to “Breaking” and “Developing” news reports today because … she’s cute. Remember, over 2,300 people go missing every day but only the missing cute white chicks get covered by the “news” services with saturation coverage for years.

In short, this story used multiple methods of propaganda for the purpose of selling eyeballs to advertisers. The hooks encouraged the sharing of the story on social media, thereby enlarging the potential ad audience.