Monthly Archives: January 2017

‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam Warning is probably fake news

Dozens of news outlets reported on a purported scam wherein fraudsters supposedly falsify charges by randomly calling people and asking ‘Can you hear me?’

Source: ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam Warning

CBS News prompted the latest round of this story. As Snopes notes, no one can identify an actual victim of the purported scam. Of course, it is a good idea to say as little as possible to telemarketers. However, it might not be a great idea to share the story on social media.

(CBS News is famous for “fake but accurate” reporting – the term the NY Times used to describe a CBS News report that caused interference in the 2004 US Presidential election, not by Russia, but by CBS. After an investigation, CBS fired CBS News producer Mary Mapes, CBS News anchor Dan Rather, 60 Minutes executive producer Josh Howard, Senior Producer Mary Murphy, and CBS Senior VP Betsy West. “Fake” news has been around a very long time.)

“Leaving Social Media Could Save Your Sanity”

Definitely a growing trend:

“I’ve been screaming my opinions at the world via the internet for a solid decade now. Back in college, I discovered LiveJournal, which I filled with movie reviews, shoddy political analysis, and snark (which I directed at other people on LiveJournal). Then Facebook opened up! And Twitter! And Instagram! And you could link them. I have now spent a solid decade getting positive reinforcement and criticism — at least someone cares! — from strangers online.

But this looks to be the year I have to stop.”

Source: Leaving Social Media Could Save Your Sanity

Social media has turned in the 1970’s “Citizen’s Band Radio” where anything goes. And the impact of all the shouting is causing people to become anxious and depressed.

The dominant activity on social media seems to be persuading others to adopt someone’s agenda. Whether its politics, environmentalism, political activism and rights groups, or online sales people trying to sell us stuff – someone is trying to persuade us to take an action.

Curtailing social media use is hard but it can be done – and the benefits are real.

“Fake news” targets those with preconceptions says study

Study finds it is doubtful that fake news changed vote outcomes.

“It may be less that false information from dubious news sources is shaping their view of the world. Rather, some people (about 8 percent of the adult population, if we take the survey data at face value) are willing to believe anything that sounds plausible and fits their preconceptions about the heroes and villains in politics.”

Source: Researchers Created Fake News. Here’s What They Found. –

The study concludes fake news did not have much impact. However, the study’s findings agree with past research on propaganda methods – targeting pre-conceptions with “sounds plausible” stories is effective. This conclusion was already known in the propaganda industry and is the basis for most of the fake news web sites. They create stories designed to hit the emotional hot buttons of their target audience – because their targets want to believe these stories are true.

They almost tip toe up to the new role of distribution on social media but then miss it:

“People’s hunger for information that suits their prejudices is powerful, and in the digital media age, a pile of it emerges to satisfy that demand.”

Fake news is the tabloid model taken to a new level, with excessive hype, exaggeration and fiction writing but with distribution and promotion handled by the gullible who like and share on social media. It’s all about the revenue stream and the social media connection is the key difference.


Republican runs fake news web site

Cam Harris, who fabricated viral stories about Hillary Clinton, did so while living in the home of his boss, a Republican member of the Maryland legislature.

Source: Major Fake News Operation Tracked Back to Republican Operative

Also see “Man behind ‘alt right’ fake news sites is registered Democrat

For all of these, making money is usually the motivation. Secondarily, they may be playing dirty politics, but as the 2nd link illustrates, even that meme is messed up when fake news creators cross party lines. Fake news can be very profitable!