New web URL: SocialPanic.org

The old web URL will continue to work but I just registered SocialPanic.org as an easier way to access this web site. The domain name is very appropriate for what this web site is about – the use of professional media and social media to deliver propaganda messaging for the purpose of getting others to adopt someone’s agenda. This is often done through methods used to create “social panic“.

The new URL will be usable shortly. It works now for me but it may take up to 72 hours for the domain name to propagate through the global Internet.

Social media companies really do read your posts, emails and documents

Google’s GMail service “scans” your emails and Google Docs to serve you ads. The word “scans” implies scanning for keywords but that is a false assumption about what is actually being done.

Natural language processing technology has advanced to where these algorithms are the equivalent of someone reading all of your emails and taking notes. Literally, online services are reading all of your email and building dossiers on what they think they know about you, ostensibly to better target advertising to you.

Facebook is taking this to extremes, having announced this week that Facebook’s algorithms are analyzing all of your online posts to determine if you suffer from depression and may be suicidal. In the event their algorithm decides you may be showing suicidal tendencies, Facebook alerts the authorities who send first responders to your home.

In other words, Facebook is now operating as an unlicensed health care practitioner and diagnosing your health based on your writings, and without ever having met you or spoken with you.

Facebook uses this information for marketing purposes too – imagine conducting this analysis and then showing you ads for anti-depressants and “talk to your doctor”. Also consider,

“An egregious example of the kind of behavior these companies’ business models encourage surfaced this summer when an internal Facebook sales pitch to advertisers was leaked to an Australian newspaper. Facebook stated it had pinpointed an audience of thousands of young teenagers who felt “insecure,” “defeated,” “nervous,” “failures,” “worthless,” and “needed a confidence boost.” These diagnoses were based on a psychoanalysis of private Facebook information: what users posted, what they liked, how they appeared in photos, who their friends and how depressed were they as well as their search and shopping histories, visits to mental illness sites or hotlines and so forth.” (source)

Twitter analyzes your Tweets, “Likes” and who you follow, plus combines this information with 3rd party advertising networks to create a profile of attributes. You can see this by going to Settings and Privacy and then selecting Your Twitter Data, page down and look at Interests from Twitter and Interests from Partners.

I discovered that almost everything they deduced about me in the Interests from Partners was wrong – seriously wrong. About the only correct items are that I have a cat and a graduate degree (2 actually, but do not tell them!)

All of this collected data is used to fine tune propaganda messaging directed at you. Of course, much of this is advertising; however, ads are also run for political purposes too. In effect, online services are proving our hypothesis – that social media has become the most advanced, friction-less propaganda platform in human history.

Silicon Valley “tech” firms have morphed into the most advanced propaganda operations in human history. Their actions are conducted in secret, they are unbounded, and they are unregulated. Their technology is now used to directly influence you and public policy.

To illustrate, this week, the head of the FCC commented on “net neutrality” and noted that Silicon Valley tech firms promote neutrality of the broadband pipe – while simultaneously censoring discussions conducted on their platform (Twitter and Youtube both do this). As if on cue, almost immediately thereafter, Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet (parent of Google) announced they will now censor news.google.com to remove stories from Russian media outlets such as RT.

In that instant, Google showed its defense of net neutrality is shallow if not completely hollow. Google wants other people to be forced to be neutral while preserving a right to censorship (including news and political speech, among the most protected of speech in the United States) for itself.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are not merely platforms for the dissemination of propaganda – they are themselves major propagandists seeking to have others adopt their agendas for their benefit.

Google is not just evil (to re-arrange their motto of “Don’t be evil”) but is acting as a menace to democracy itself.

And what could possibly go wrong with Facebook’s surveillance and analyzing our posts and perhaps discovering that we hold views contrary to the power structure?

Someone should write a book about this – I know, they could title it “1984”!

Bottom Line

Online services including Google (Gmail, Docs), Facebook and Twitter and undoubtedly others are doing the machine equivalent of reading your email and documents, taking notes, and analyzing what you are writing to draw conclusions about you.

What could possibly go wrong?

Teen anxiety problems driven by social media?

Teens are said to be suffering from anxiety, more so than in the past. No one cause is identified but social media is called out:

“When I asked Eken about other common sources of worry among highly anxious kids, she didn’t hesitate: social media. Anxious teenagers from all backgrounds are relentlessly comparing themselves with their peers, she said, and the results are almost uniformly distressing.

Anxious kids certainly existed before Instagram, but many of the parents I spoke to worried that their kids’ digital habits — round-the-clock responding to texts, posting to social media, obsessively following the filtered exploits of peers — were partly to blame for their children’s struggles. To my surprise, anxious teenagers tended to agree. “

Discussion

Until last winter, I was very anxious about logging into Facebook. Each day I was confronted with other people’s negativity, bitterness, anger – and their control issues as they sought, through their use of social media to propagandize others to adopt their agenda. Literally, I was on edge each time I logged into Facebook as my stomach would churn like butterflies fluttering. I avoided logging into FB in the evening, worried I’d be left upset about whatever and have trouble getting to sleep.

With my new awareness of propaganda techniques I recognized the effects propaganda was having on me.  Anger, fear and emotional hot buttons are powerful motivators in the propaganda tool box and are used daily to attack each of us. The constant onslaught of negativity, anger and fear can lead to anxiety and depression in the target.

  • My solution was to recognize I was being manipulated by others seeking to control my emotions and my thoughts through the tools of propaganda.
  • I had to decide: stay on social media or leave it entirely? I chose to stay, but on my terms.
  • I cleaned up my newsfeed to get rid of the anger, the negativity, and the bitter control freaks seeking to engage us with every post.

These steps eliminated the anxiety I felt when using social media. Today, I log in to read helpful posts from hobby groups I belong to. I post helpful tips to others in those groups. I read fun updates from friends about events and sometimes their accomplishments. I turned social media into a positive, supportive environment rather than a stinking cess pool of anger and hostility.

I also had an epiphany – the power that controlling persons exert on the rest of us: Social media has become the ideal platform for those who are compelled to control others[1]; such people are “neither nice nor respectful“.

None of us can change their behavior – we are best to walk away. They are the ones with a problem, not us.

“It’s when they start telling you who you are, what to wear, think, feel and do that they’re being controlling.”

“Controlling people often assume that they understand how you think, even when they actually don’t.”

“Questions can irritate a controlling person because they would rather be in control of the questioning, not anybody else.”

“controlling people will turn belittling or cruel at the drop of a hat, especially if they think you’ve done something wrong. If you frequently feel small, embarrassed, humiliated, or sad after this person talks to you, you might be involved with a controlling person.”

“Controlling people often demean or criticize others as a means of building themselves up and appearing superior and in control. In fact, a controlling person is easy to spot from the constant monologue about how rotten, stupid, evil, ridiculous, annoying, etc. everyone else is (presumably they’re never any of these things).”

(see this link for more about controlling persons and their behaviors)

I no longer feel badly for unfollowing or unfriending someone whose social media is consumed by anger and negativity as I free myself from their attempts to control me through their ranting.

Related

  • It’s said that Instagram is the social media platform for narcissists who constantly post photos of themselves, seeking adulation and approval from the masses.
  • Facebook is the social media platform for controlling personalities sometimes also known as control freaks and toxic personalities. The latter because of their toxic effect on everyone else.

Footnotes

[1] Many people are control freaks and try hard to control their surroundings and the  people within their environment. This is a subject for psychologists (a field of which I know little). Many of us have dealt with control freaks or may be have some controlling urges ourselves – learning to recognize how these behaviors are toxic to others is important. Learning how such toxicity has come to rule much of Facebook can help each of us walk away from the negativity and develop healthier minds as a result.

 

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

Rent A Crowd “Crowds on Demand” – and How Absolutely Everything is Fake

A local politician came out to speak to an enthusiastic audience? Could be an entirely fake audience of paid participants.[1]

A local protest takes to the streets to demand ACTION over whatever – and gets extensive media coverage? Could be a fake group of paid participants. Or sometimes, it is a mix of paid actors plus others who think its an organic, grass roots event. But its fake too.

There are “public relations” firms (a.k.a. propaganda firms) that specialize in hiring crowds of people to create a media friendly spectacle. Here is a screen capture (August 14, 2017) of crowdsondemand.com:

Source: Crowds on Demand | Celebrity Experiences for Rent | Entourages, Paparazzi and Fans| Strategic Publicity Stunts | Corporate Events

We are surrounded by public relations/propaganda messaging campaigns 24 x 7. The term “grass roots” refers to an action that is allegedly coming “from the people”. The term “astroturf” refers to fake “grass roots” programs, like the above, designed to trick politicians and leaders into taking action based on a false perception of a “grass roots” effort. Most “grass roots” efforts today are actually “astroturf” operations run by professional propaganda outfits. More on our blog, here.

Powerful people in our society use rent-a-crowds to give the appearance of support to their own agendas. They could could be a business (say wanting to expand a building and needing local public support), a property developer wanting to build a new development, a non profit activist group seeking to raise donations, a politician seeking support for legislation – and on and on.

I first learned about this from an item shared on social media, an item, which like the “fake photos”, is incorrectly attributed to the Charlottesville, Virginia riot. Here it is – note the ad actually references Charlotte NORTH CAROLINA – not Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • Snopes also looked into this and was unable to confirm that Crowds on Demand was not involved in Charlottesville, VA or at similar protests. The company would not say much about what they do, except to say they do not support hate groups.

Notes

[1] The flip side of this is the use of paid audience members who are trained to help shape the discussion in the direction the politician or other leader desires. This is done even at local community meetings. Ostensibly a meeting is held to obtain community input. In reality, the decisions have already been made and the purpose of the meeting is to steer the group into a consensus around the decision that was already made. Techniques include rearranging seating to avoid “organized blocks” from emerging, the use of “planted” audience members who are called upon and give feedback supporting the desired meeting outcome, and other methods. These are methods of persuasion, propaganda and control. We are subjected to them daily without even realizing that we’ve been “had”.

The least and most trusted news sources in the United States

Which ones are the most widely shared on social media? (Story doesn’t answer that question)

Something you can do for fun – visit any of these organizations’ Facebook pages and FB will tell you which of your friends “like” that page. Kinda scary.

Source: These are the most — and the least — trusted news sources in the U.S. – MarketWatch

The survey was conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

Did social media propaganda play a role in shooting?

This blog has extensively documented the use of propaganda methods to deliver propaganda messaging on social media web services such as Facebook.

A 66 year old attempted to assassinate members of Congress. According to media reports, he belongs to a number of propaganda-based social media groups:

Hodgkinson is a member of a number of anti-Republican groups on Facebook, including one called

▪“Terminate the Republican Party.”

▪ “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans”

▪ “Donald Trump is not my President”

▪ “President Bernie Sanders”

▪ “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump”

▪ “Boycott the Republican Party”

▪ “Expose Republican Fraud”

▪ “Terminate the Republican Party”

Source: Rep Steve Scalise shot in congressional baseball game | Belleville News-Democrat

More here.

As this blog has noted, social media has created – for many – a culture of perpetual outrage. Fake news and social media agitation groups – both left and right – are widespread on social media. Many who view themselves as intelligent and understanding belong to these types of social groups on Facebook. When you visit these agitation groups, you may be surprised to find FB lets you know which of your “friends” are members of the group (FB does this to encourage you to join the group).

Such groups are properly termed “hate groups”. Go through the above list and change the name “Republican” or “Trump” to the name of an ethnic group or the name of a religion to understand this.

Facebook is filled with groups like the above – on both the left and the right. Facebook has become a friction-less platform for the spread of propaganda against many. This propaganda keeps the emotions of its targets in a constant state of perpetual outrage.

Social media CEOs will tell us that propaganda on their platforms has little impact while simultaneously basing their business model on advertising (which is a form of propaganda). Simultaneously, they vow to shut down propaganda by ISIS and neo-Nazi groups that are said to cause “radicalization”. Social media CEOs and other publishers have argued themselves into a dead end (no pun intended) and want us to believe social media has no impact, but please buy advertising on our social media because we have an impact!

NBC News reports “The inquiry is raising questions about a possible political motivation” and “A motive remained unclear“. The lengthy NBC news fails to mention anything about the shooter’s background. The suspect wrote to a newspaper that a news personality owned by NBC is his is favorite TV show.

Update: Social media, is no surprise, filled with more hate speech in response to the shooting.

“Twitter and Tear Gas”

How social media “adhocracies” are “more likely to be one-hit wonders” as they enlist social media propaganda to whip people into a frenzy – and how governments and politicians are fighting back using propaganda:

The author is also insightful on how governments and politicians are moving from censorship, no easy task on social media, to attention-grabbing and misinformation.

Source: Why networked protest struggles on the streets

Weaponized social media may rein in abusive practices

The viral video of a ticketed passenger dragged forcefully off a United flight is only the latest example of bad behavior exposed in the age of social media.

Source: Smartphones and social media are turning consumers into whistleblowers

It has been said we should write every email with the assumption it will be printed on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. That concept may be extended – every customer interaction – good or bad – may end up on Youtube or Facebook.

As noted a couple of days ago, people are, in general, frustrated  with bureaucratic arrogance. The United fiasco gave everyone an opportunity to vent against idiotic and uncalled for behaviors demonstrated by those in power. Social media provides an outlet to shine a light on such behaviors.

Perhaps a weaponized social media populace will become a more polite and common sense oriented society.

What do your social media posts say about you?

As a general rule, you can make lots of assumptions about people from their social media feed. If they’re always changing their profile pic, they’re obviously unstable. If they’re ranting about relationships, they’re high maintenance. Moaning about politics: too self-involved. Reposting old jokes/claiming nicked ones as their own: annoying/untrustworthy. Humble bragging: esteem issues, possibly insane.

Source: The man in the social media mirror: what’s the truth about my online persona?

As the author notes, all of these assumptions are stereotypes and our judgments of others, based on their posts, may be completely wrong. Yet we have no control over how others view our online posts, through their own “filter” of life experiences. The impact, of course, is that our social media posts may paint a picture of ourselves that is not how we see ourselves. But those posts leave a trail that others use to judge us, and judge us in ways that may be substantially wrong.