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Category: In Practice

Academic study finds Google refers news searches to small selection of news publishers, and favors left leaning over right leaning outlets

Academic study finds Google refers news searches to small selection of news publishers, and favors left leaning over right leaning outlets

An academic study finds that Google steers news searches towards articles in left leaning publications versus to similar stories in right leaning publications. This is another post in our series about the influence that publishers and corporations (including social media) exert on public opinion.

Nice explanation of how propaganda messaging works

Nice explanation of how propaganda messaging works

“A good cause makes a lie easier to buy”. This is why many propaganda campaigns use themes such as “for the children” – even though their claims are exaggerated or not true. The target buys the propaganda message since its for a good cause.

Fear is a powerful motivator in propaganda messaging: How its used to sell third party solar

Fear is a powerful motivator in propaganda messaging: How its used to sell third party solar

Third party companies offer to install solar PV arrays on your home and promise to save you money on your monthly electric utility costs. Bloomberg found they use a mix of false assertions, lies, cherry picking and fear as sales methods, to persuade homeowners to sign up and lease the solar PV system for decades. Over time, the lease costs increase such that the homeowner spends far more in the future, while the third party company collects large government subsidies. Few homeowners understand what they got in to. When they go to sell their home, the lease is transferred to the buyer – in effect, TPO solar PV arrays become a dead weight on the home’s future sales potential, particularly to informed buyers who understand the game.

Media influences your thinking merely by choosing which stories to run

Media influences your thinking merely by choosing which stories to run

435 Congressional Representatives were elected last November. How many can you name? Probably not many. But you can probably name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez due to the media’s odd fixation on her with non-stop saturation coverage. Why has the media singled out one Representative for saturation coverage – and largely ignores the other 434 Representatives?

Controversial “viral” video clip was pushed on social media by “a network of anonymous” and apparently fake accounts

Controversial “viral” video clip was pushed on social media by “a network of anonymous” and apparently fake accounts

Social media is the new battleground. It’s being used to push people over the edge, to threaten violence against others, and in some cases, leading to actual violence. A controversial video clip that spread online in the past day was pushed by what appears to have been a fake account.

How online news manipulates your perspectives on events by running the same story each day

How online news manipulates your perspectives on events by running the same story each day

Have you noticed that many online news web sites – both newspapers and TV stations – will run a news story and then leave it prominently on their web page for days – even weeks? The stories are typically ones that inflame reader or viewer emotions – and the effect of turning them into semi-permanent stories is to distort the perception of the importance of the story. The primary purpose is likely “click-bait” to drive advertising clicks, but they may also distort the public’s perception on important policy issues.

Fear and false assertion used to market a government law

Fear and false assertion used to market a government law

Obamacare was judged unconstitutional by a Federal judge today. In response, a number of politicians made comments such as this one: “Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions”. That claim, however, is false. It is not well known but HIPAA (passed in 1996) provided protections for many, and about half of the U.S. states enacted various protections against pre-existing condition exclusions. This was hidden by design. By implying (falsely) that 1/3d of the U.S. population would be denied health insurance, the method of fear is used to create political support.

How airlines use intimidation to persuade you to spend more money

How airlines use intimidation to persuade you to spend more money

The new multi-level boarding scheme and “class-based” seating assignment is designed to embarrass the low payers, who must walk down the full front and center seats. Everyone knows that you, boarding last, are the cheap skate who bought a cheap ticket. This intimidation uses techniques of propaganda to persuade you to buy a higher priced ticket on your next flight.