Monthly Archives: October 2016

How social media censorship threatens the flow of information #wikileaks

The rise of the Internet has expanded the ways in which information may be delivered to end users, going around potential media and government control of information.

However, as social media platforms increasingly become our gateways to the web, they are recentralizing the distributed web. As Facebook breaks 1.7 billion users worldwide, every one of those users in every country of the world are subject to a single centralized set of rules governing what is acceptable content that can be posted on Facebook’s pages. ….

One could easily imagine Facebook eventually developing guidelines that prohibit the redistribution of stolen materials, perhaps at the request of US law enforcement or certain foreign governments as a condition of operating in those nations…..  In such a world, Wikileaks would essentially cease to exist for the average person, as even news coverage of Wikileaks content would simply be filtered out of their daily news feed, making them entirely oblivious to the organization’s latest data dumps.

Source: Julian Assange’s Internet Access And How Facebook Could Be The End Of Wikileaks

As readers of this blog know, social media is a frictionless platform for propaganda messaging. But as the linked column points out, Internet users are increasingly leaving the web for social sharing platforms which are increasingly controlled (“censored”, “manipulated”, “propaganda-based”). Eventually, it may again become hard to find primary sources and to think for yourself, versus being told what to think by the “authorities” and “experts”.

“What you see is all there is”

A popular propaganda method is to give you some information that leads you to a likely incorrect conclusion, but the conclusion the propagandist would like you to reach.

The trick works because we see some information in the propaganda message and our brain short circuits and concludes that “What you see is all there is”. We then quickly agree with the message without considering that we have an incomplete picture.

The following social media propaganda poster was shared into my timeline and illustrates the “What you see is all there is” problem.


Wow – 7 species of bees were put on the endangered species list and havoc will result. Wow – Like and Share this post “Before it’s too late!” (or before your brain resumes functioning).

Did you know that there are about 4,000 species of bees in the United States?

Did you know that native bees – not honey bees – do most of our plant pollinating?

Does your view of the above poster change once you have additional information?

The above poster may also work because you may have heard about colony collapse disorder in the recent past. The die offs attributed to colony collapse disorder have become smaller in recent years and also see the EPA page.

This post is not about whether colony collapse disorder is happening or not, or whether humans or climate change or randomness are the cause. This post is about the concept of “What you see is all there is” and illustrates how a complex subject, simplified, can lead you to a potentially inappropriate conclusion.


Bizarre attempts at social media propaganda regarding #Wikileaks

This is bizarre on many levels:


The files are read as HTML (text) files via the web site, which does not present a way to deliver malware to your computer. The first document release contained about 2,000 text files, making the “33,000 viruses” claim silly.

This social media propaganda message might have been posted in attempt to discourage you from reading the Wikileaks documents for your self, or it could have been posted by someone that wants you to think people discouraging the reading of Wikileaks documents are not very bright.

In a related vein, is this comment from CNN’s Chris Cuomo, a licensed attorney, who says it is illegal for people to read the Wikileaks documents but acceptable for the media to do so, and that we should rely on the media to read the documents and listen to the media’s analysis only. This is a “jaw drop” and “face palm” moment:

Cuomo appears to be saying that it is illegal for you to think for yourself. Instead, outsource your thinking to the respected experts at CNN. What ever you do, do not think for yourself – leave thinking to the professionals, to the elite who are much smarter than you.

Is it Legal to Read Wikileaks Documents?

Here is what the experts say (I know nothing of the law and am only linking to other’s comments, which I believe is still legal in the United States, but I might be wrong.)

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that someone who has no secrecy obligations to an employer has a First amendment right to read anything they want.

The U.S. government did tell U.S. government employees that reading Wikileaks documents that are in the public domain is illegal if the documents are still classified. Some government employees have restrictions against accessing classified information even when the information is in the public domain. The government said it would prosecute children, parents and relatives of government workers if children or extended family members read publicly available classified documents.

There are additional comments that the U.S. government suggested college students who post commentary on social media, indicating they had read Wikileaks documents, might not be permitted to hold government jobs, per a 2010 report.

The U.S. government has never successfully prosecuted a journalist for publishing formerly secret documents.

The main threat to reading Wikileaks document is that the NSA records the IP addresses of everyone who visits the web site (says EFF).

Cuomo has backpedaled on his legal advice, using Twitter (but not CNN):


Google plans to offer “fact check” for

Source: Labeling fact-check articles in Google News

It appears they will add links to sources that might help to check if items in the news story are true or false.

That this needs to be done says something about news reporting 🙂

I am having a difficult time seeing how “fact checking” would work on stories like this, this and this, which we showed, were incorrectly reported initially, and in some cases, led to the creation of “false” facts.

President Obama also said this week, ““There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world,” Obama added.”

and “Obama said democracy require[s] citizens to be able to sift through lies and distortions.”

Truthiness is defined as “a quality characterizing a “truth” that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence,logic, intellectual examination, or facts

Do Obama’s lies about the Affordable Care Act fit into “basic truthiness tests”?

These comments were followed by  CNN’s Chris Cuomo telling us we should not think for ourselves but let the media tell us what to think.

Does anything here look like propaganda messaging to you?