The notionally accurate NY Times

This tweet is not the way to respond to accusations of “fake news”.

Maggie Haberman is the White House reporter for the NY Times. Perhaps she does not know what the word “notional” means – or, she is advocating fake news is fine as long as meets (her) imaginary world view.

From Dictionary.com:

  1. pertaining to or expressing a notion or idea.
  2. of the nature of a notion or idea: a notional response to the question.
  3. abstract, theoretical, or speculative, as reflective thought.
  4. not real or actual; ideal or imaginary: to create a notional world for oneself.
  5. given to or full of foolish or fanciful ideas or moods.
In other words, Haberman is saying that though it is false, it meets our imaginary idea of what we want it to be, therefore, it is true.
It is perplexing why the media does this to itself. I do not think Orwell intended his novel “1984” to be a “how-to” guide for the NY Times.

Author advocates more control and censorship over Youtube video content

In a free advertisement courtesy of USA Today, author Andrew Keen, who has made his living writing books condemning the Internet is quoted:

Andrew Keen says the real problem lies with YouTube, a platform without gatekeepers. The rules on the content that’s allowed on television, particularly children’s television, should extend to YouTube, which is soaking up more and more of young people’s screen time, says Keen, author of the upcoming book How to Fix the Future: Staying Human in the Digital Age.

“It’s the same old story. No curation, no mediation, no taste, no boundaries. All clicks,” says Keen. “How many times does this need to happen?”

Source: Logan Paul Japan vlog video raises issue: Is YouTube is safe for kids?

Keen thinks user generated content is evil. While I have similar concerns I do not advocate heavy handed, top down, centralized content control nor censorship programs, as Keen does.  I advocate that information consumers turn off the spigot and take charge over what they subject themselves to each day and learn to think for themselves. Consumers must use social media with their brains firmly engaged. Think before you Like and Share. Don’t be gullible.

The Gorilla Channel

A cartoonist, who has done this sort of satire before, posted the following on Twitter:

He made this fake excerpt as a parody of Trump, the book, and the media and you won’t believe what happened next! Hah hah.

About twenty gazillion people shared this on social media, thinking it was genuine. This illustrates both the craziness of the political elite (Trump is odd) and the confirmation bias that people bring to social media, and who share nonsense without questioning anything.

Worse, of course, is when the professional media sources from social media because – reliability or something!

I expect a lot of fake memes like this to now flood social media. Why not?

Life Time fitness chain removes news channels from all TVs as constant news not healthy

Life Time fitness, a chain of gyms in the U.S. and Canada has removed all cable news channels from the televisions displayed throughout their facility, as customers complained that the constant barrage of news was not healthy.

Source: Life Time fitness chain blacks out all-news TV channels – StarTribune.com

That we need to be constantly entertained while doing something like exercise illustrates how ingrained media consumption (and manipulation!) has become.

But it is interesting to see that many others are fed up with the constant barrage of 24 x 7 “news” (I put that in quotes since most of it is now entertainment, not traditional news reporting).

Me – I go running. I do not even listen to music while running. Clearly, I am weird!

Constant consumption of news leads to anxiety, sleep problems, night mares, sense of distraction and loss of control

Staying informed is a strength, but for many people it’s mushroomed into an obsession with the news.

Source: My therapy clients can’t tear themselves away from the news — and it’s messing with their lives – The Washington Post

Personally, I found that certain subjects were “triggering” anxiety in me and I have cut way back on news and social media consumption. I also unfollowed or unfriended individuals who spent most of their social media time baiting people with hostile political rants. These steps led to improved sleep and better mental health.

Through my fascination with propaganda and the creation of this web site, I learned how media is manipulative. I learned how it uses emotional hooks as bait for our attention, and how these hooks inflame our emotional state. I learned that ranting on social media is not healthy for those doing the ranting nor for their drive by victims.

I learned that a large quantity of news is speculation, often intended to inflame our emotions (and the speculation generally proves unfounded when we look back at old news stories). I also learned that much news is pointless, exaggerated, lacking in context or surprisingly wrong. We pretend we are being informed when in reality news is mostly a distraction and a form of entertainment.

We’ve gone to a 24 x 7 cable TV driven news cycle – where almost all of it is repetitive drivel and speculation of no importance to any of us. We will doubtfully remember most stories in a day, let a lone in a week.

How to create fake Twitter tweets that look official! Create your own online hoax!

This came across my social media today – with the comment that this was posted by Nancy Pelosi on December 20th, but she had quickly deleted it. This is, of course, a hoax.

Snopes calls this a hoax, nothing that while such a tweet could have been made, and then deleted, it was allegedly re-tweeted over 2,000 times (see image). Consequently, there would be evidence of people sharing a tweet that no longer existed (these appears as deleted tweets) but they could not find any such tweets. However, those comments are moot – the tweet was actually created using an online meme generator and is water marked as such.

I did not know about the fake Tweet generator – let’s go have some fun! Some of the fake tweets displayed on that page are hilariously funny!

 

Will virtual reality lead to more effective propaganda?

By “effective” we mean, propaganda that is more successful at persuading someone to adopt someone else’s agenda:

“What really makes people trust VR more is that it creates a greater sense of realism compared to text and that creates the trustworthiness,” said Sundar.

….

That said, the immersive quality of virtual reality and 360-degree video may make the content more shareable, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the current issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

Source: Virtual reality makes journalism immersive, realism makes it credible — ScienceDaily

VR appears to strengthen two key attributes of propaganda messaging:

  1. The VR experience enhances credibility of the propaganda message
  2. VR content may be “more shareable” than other content.

In other words, people are less likely to question the propaganda and are more likely to share it – further enhancing social media’s role as a frictionless platform for propaganda messaging.

Are we doomed? 🙂

Social media propaganda poster implies world hunger is getting worse (but it’s not) #socialmedia #propaganda

This came across my Facebook time line today:

“The world’s hunger is getting ridiculous” – the word “getting” implies global hunger is getting worse – which is the message intended by this social media propaganda meme.

Some types of shampoo may contain extracts of flowers or herbs and a few may contain extract of a fruit, but they are not significant components, by mass, of shampoo. This tidbit seems thrown in to encourage the target to feel guilty.

In reality, in the incidence of global hunger is decreasing sharply. In spite of growth in the world’s population, hunger fell from 1,010.6 million afflicted in 1990-1992 to 794.6 million afflicted in 2014-2016.

Because of population growth, when translated to a percentage, the incidence of hunger fell from 18.6% to 10.9%.

Social media is filled with false propaganda claims such as the above. The target is undoubtedly aware that hunger is a problem. Due to media coverage and advertising campaigns by groups[1] doing fund raising to fight hunger (which remains a genuine problem, although access to clean water is a bigger problem), the target has received pre-propaganda messaging to know that hunger is a problem. Consequently, when a minor social media propaganda post such as the above is shared by friends on Facebook, the target’s System 1 intuitive and easy going thinking mode kicks in and thinks, wow, hunger is getting worse.

Few people will stop to think about this poster. The effect is that social media propaganda messaging, even extremely simple messages like that in this poster, have the desired impact on the target. This type of simplistic propaganda is effective at influencing public opinion – and notably, the results of public opinion polls.

As we noted in the past, public opinion polls measure the effectiveness of a propaganda campaign (at best). Opinion polls are mostly just another form of propaganda used to influence public policy.

The person posting and sharing this poster (or similar) is engaged in virtue signalling, showing to others that he or she is a compassionate, caring individual. On Twitter we see many “Re-tweet if you agree” memes. Not one of these tweets will actually fix or change anything – but the person re-tweeting can feel good about themselves because they are making a difference (well, not really) – and letting their friends know that they care!

[1] Hunger, with a focus on children, is a powerful marketing message for fund raising. Groups that depend on donations know this and make hunger the “face” of their promotional activities because it works. Many of these groups have effective programs and are doing good works but hunger programs may be a relatively minor part of their spending.

 

Fitness trackers do not improve health; Plan B is to manipulate users via social media peer pressure #FitnessTrackers

This is a standard propaganda technique – “Get on the Bandwagon”, which uses peer pressure to encourage you to adopt someone else’s agenda:

The first is leveraging social networks to stoke competition or foster support. Researchers led by Penn State psychologist Liza Rovniak recently showed support networks to be highly effective at increasing physical activity in unmotivated adults, but Patel suspects the leaderboard format, a popular way of promoting competition by ranking users, fails to inspire anyone but those people at the top of the charts (who probably need the least encouragement anyway).

Source: Science Says Fitness Trackers Don’t Work. Wear One Anyway | WIRED

Even though fitness trackers do not work to change behavior over time, many employers now give away free fitness trackers in exchange for employer sponsored health insurance discounts.

Note

This only applies to employer-sponsored health insurance. In the individual market, the ACA prohibits giving discounts to individuals who engage in any healthy behaviors other than not smoking. The ACA turned the health insurance market place into a variant of apartheid.

The old is new again: States want schools to teach students “media literacy”

State lawmakers around the country are pushing schools to put more emphasis on teaching students how to tell fact from fiction online, a skill they say is critical to democracy.

Lawmakers have introduced or passed bills calling on public school systems to develop lessons for a form of instruction called “media literacy.”

Alarmed by fake news, states push media literacy in schools

We did this when I was a kid in elementary school. We were asked to read a newspaper article each day starting in about 2nd or 3rd grade. By 5th or 6th grade, we were required to write a paragraph summary of a newspaper article (sometimes each day). I grew up infatuated with the “news” and the importance of “news”. We were taught how news worked, how reporters were “objective” and unbiased, and how a free press was critical to a democracy.

Today, of course, we’ve learned that pros play silly games with absurd click-bait headlines (shouldn’t this be titled “Alarmed by this, states push this on school children”?), engage in subject cheer leading instead of objective and unbiased reporting,while sanctimoniously lecturing us while their star personalities (and many more) were arrogant jerks.

Will students be taught to think for themselves (hopefully!) or will they be trained how to be compliant targets of propaganda wars waged in the media and in social media?