Facebook users decrease usage an average of 2 minutes per day

Much noise is being made over Facebook seeing a decline in usage of 50 million hours per day and a decline in number of daily users in North America.

Source: Facebook stock falls 4 percent as user time dips, revenue growth slows

Facebook is continually tweaking its algorithms for what information is presented in our FB news feed – sometimes to increase engagement, sometimes to increase ad sales, sometimes to apparently decrease engagement.

As long time users of Facebook reduce their minutes of usage, FB aggressively seeks to get them back

More and more people seem to be reducing their involvement with social media. Not necessarily eliminating social media but curtailing the amount of time they spend online and making fewer posts.

In response, Facebook seems more aggressive about emailing users reminding them of updates from friends and urging them to log in.

When I do not log in for a few days, I get pestered with emails from Facebook urging me to see what my friends are doing. If I log in each day, I appear to see no emails from Facebook.

This aggressiveness suggests reports of less Facebook usage are a real thing and may suggest a problem for ad supported social media moving forward.

Source: Facebook Really Wants You to Come Back – Bloomberg

Why are people reducing their Facebook usage? We can guess there are many factors including

  • the novelty of social media sharing has worn off
  • many users are becoming aware of the emotional and mental health problems with some social media usage (such as being surrounded by the culture of outrage that seems to be shouting at us all time time)
  • feelings of inadequacy caused by others posting attractive selfies at exotic vacation destinations
  • And so forth
  • A desire to reconnect with real people in real life, rather than virtual friends in virtual reality


Highly successful propaganda operation concerning road and highway funding

“Hundreds of bridges in Oregon and Southwest Washington are structurally deficient, according to a new report released Tuesday.”

Source: Bridges in trouble: Report names hundreds of Ore., Wash. ‘structurally deficient’ bridges | KATU

The organization that issued this report is a lobbying organization:

“Established in 1902, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.”

Congress is about to consider legislation that might fund infrastructure spending in the 1 to 1.5 trillion dollar range.

The organization’s report uses fear as its primary means of propaganda messaging based on two sets of words:

  • “Crumbling infrastructure”
  • “Structurally deficient”

Each year they issue reports which the news media dutifully reports as about America’s “crumbling infrastructure”. Their propaganda is so successful that one seldom see a news article about infrastructure without “crumbling” placed in front of “infrastructure”.

The group’s goal is to persuade the public to spend money on infrastructure improvements that translate into business for members of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Terminology or careful selection of words plays a major role in propaganda messaging. In the past, bridges that needed to be repainted were labeled “structurally deficient” (appears to still be true, page 68). Similarly, standards have changed – a bridge that has an overhead clearance of less than 14 feet or lane widths less than contemporary standards are now considered structurally deficient (technically they are “functionally obsolete” but those are rolled up into the “structurally deficient” count). Bridges that have lead-based paint may be considered “structurally deficient”.

‘”Structurally deficient” does not imply that it is likely to collapse or that it is unsafe.”‘

A “deficient” bridge is one with some maintenance concerns that do not pose a safety risk. A “deficient” bridge typically requires maintenance and repair and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to address deficiencies.

This is similar to saying your car needs an oil and air filter change, therefore your car is structurally deficient.

Because the public’s concept of “structurally deficient” is different than the civil engineers’ view of “structurally deficient”, this choice of wording is effective in persuading the public to give more money to civil engineers.

Which is why this is a tremendously successful propaganda messaging operation.

Of course, there are bridges, roadways and tunnels that need work or replacement but it is difficult for the public to make informed decisions when those with a conflict of interest are running the public propaganda campaign.

Note – this post is NOT about whether or not transportation and other infrastructure facilities need to be repaired, rebuilt or expanded. This post is about the obvious propaganda messaging undertaken and, in particular, how the use of wording or language itself can be used to deliver a propaganda messaging. Public opinion polls will subsequently be run to show how much the public supports “fixing America’s crumbling infrastructure”. These polls results will then be used to influence spending priorities of elected representatives.

The public, of course, generally knows nothing about the details of highways and bridges but instead forms their opinion from the propaganda messaging that has been delivered to them. They have been told repeatedly about “America’s crumbling infrastructure” and its scary sounding “structurally deficient” bridges.

Public opinion polls do not really measure public opinion – they measure the success of propaganda operations!


Social media’s surveillance-of-users business model may get regulation

Most people associate Facebook with cute family photos and think of Google like a semi-reliable encyclopedia. But these services have only a tangential relationship to the way either company actually makes money. The twin Silicon Valley titans rely on two closely intertwined technologies, customer surveillance and advertising, to maximize shareholder profits.

Source: Facebook And Google’s Surveillance Capitalism Model Is In Trouble | HuffPost

Social media’s surveillance of end users conflicts with European laws, and may conflict with the general public’s wishes, if the general public understood what these companies are doing with their collection of personal data about all of us.

Millions of fake Twitter followers, often based on stolen Twitter account identities

Not surprisingly, everything about social media is mostly fake.

“Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.

The accounts that most resemble real people, like Ms. Rychly, reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysis.”

Of course, the NY Times hints at their own conflict of interest – people with many followers, real or fake, get endorsement deals. That means ad dollars flowing to people and groups other than the NY Times.

“High follower counts are also critical for so-called influencers, a budding market of amateur tastemakers and YouTube stars where advertisers now lavish billions of dollars a year on sponsorship deals. The more people influencers reach, the more money they make. According to data collected by Captiv8, a company that connects influencers to brands, an influencer with 100,000 followers might earn an average of $2,000 for a promotional tweet, while an influencer with a million followers might earn $20,000.”

Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws each day – or not

Americans are said to use 500 million plastic straws each cay.

Where did the 500 million estimate come from? Someone named Milo Cress who did a telephone survey – when he was nine years old in 2011.

This is said to be the sole source of this estimate, now quoted by politicians, the media, the National Park Service and the National Restaurant Association.

A lot of people accept this number without realizing it means roughly everyone in the U.S. uses two straws every day, which seems unlikely.

Making an assertion about something – in this case, 500M straws per day – is easy to do. As you may know, the root of “number” is “numb” and many brains go numb at the sight of a number. Propagandists like to throw out numbers – because no matter how off the wall they may be – numbers give the message greater authority.

Source: California Considers $1,000 Fine for Waiters Offering Unsolicited Plastic Straws – Hit & Run : Reason.com

George Soros says social media companies should be regulated like utilities

“They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near- monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access,” he said.


“There could be an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance,” he said. “This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.”

Source: George Soros Just Launched A Scathing Attack On Google And Facebook

Social media appears to be losing its “safe harbor” protection against liability for speech on their sites

Social media companies have argued they are immune from liability (say for libel) as they are carriers of the speech of others, and do not have editorial control over the content on their web sites. They are like a phone company that is not liable for the speech conducted over their phone lines.

However, with an awareness now that social media, such as Twitter, throttles tweet exposure, edits trending tag lists, and shadow bans some content, that defense becomes untenable. Social media platforms increasingly apply editorial control over their content and look more like a newspaper, magazine or television/radio broadcaster that is liable for their content. European government leaders are pointing this out:

“The status quo is increasingly unsustainable as it becomes clear these platforms are no longer just passive hosts. But applying the existing standards of liability for publishers is not straightforward so we need to consider what is most appropriate for the modern economy.”

Source: Telegram and social media giants spanked in UK PM’s Davos speech | TechCrunch

Software industry CEO thinks Facebook should be regulated

With discussions about Russian interference in US elections and the addictiveness of consumer tech currently at the forefront of the national conversation, Benioff said, Facebook should be regulated “exactly the same way you regulated the cigarette industry,” with the safety of consumers coming before the financial health of the companies.

Source: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: Facebook should be regulated like the cigarette industry – SFGate

To avoid fake news on Facebook, just avoid all news on Facebook?

According to the Pew Research Center, Americans are between two and three times more likely to trust the local news (82 percent) and the national news (76 percent) than they are to trust anything they see on social media (34 percent).

Source: How to avoid fake news: Stop getting your news from Facebook, that’s how

Corollary: To avoid spreading fake news, only share content that you create yourself or that which is created by people you personally know.