Monthly Archives: October 2017

Facebook confirms it is a platform for the friction-less spread of propaganda

Emphasis added:

Facebook said Russia-backed operatives published about 80,000 posts that were delivered to approximately 29 million people on the social network during a two-year period, CBS News reported Monday, citing a source familiar with Facebook’s planned testimony. The posts may have spread to three times that many people after they were shared, liked and followed by Facebook users.

Source: Facebook: Russian-backed posts reached 126M during election – CNET

I am amused that the many (but not all) of the media reports seem oblivious to the widespread use of Facebook as a propaganda delivery platform. Some of the coverage of this topic leaves one thinking that most propaganda on Facebook must originate in Russia!

The problem with censoring speech is … who gets to be the censor?

Who gets to be the censor?

Crazily, Americans say they favor free speech and censorship!

… the survey also found Americans willing to censor, regulate, or punish a wide variety of speech and expression they personally find offensive:

  • 51% of staunch liberals say it’s “morally acceptable” to punch Nazis. 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.

  • 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns.

  • 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.

  • 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts. 4

  • 7% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.

Source: Poll: 71% of Americans Say Political Correctness Has Silenced Discussions Society Needs to Have, 58% Have Political Views They’re Afraid to Share | Cato @ Liberty

Read the whole thing. Americans think they – and college students – should engage in free speech – but simultaneously favor censorship of speakers they don’t like.

There is a way to censor speech you do not like – avoid it, do not listen to it, do not attend their talks, do not lend them support.

Users denied access to their own Google Docs for “violating terms of service”

Even if the error turns out to be a technical glitch, the fact that Google is capable of identifying “bad” Google Docs at all is a reminder: Much of what you upload, receive or type to Google is monitored. While many people may be aware that Gmail scans your emails — for instance, so that its smart-reply feature can figure out what responses to suggest — this policy extends to other Google products, too.

Source: Google Docs ‘terms of service violation’ affecting users – The Washington Post

Google admits they scan your email and monitor and log everything you do online. Per the reporter, Google would not say whether they read your Google Docs documents.

There are good reasons to avoid using Chrome, or cloud services like those provided by Google “for free”. Remember, when its free, you are the product that is being sold.

Update from Google – apparently they do scan our documents.

Hi everyone,

This issue should now be resolved and you should be able to access your files.

For more details, this morning, we made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked. A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs. Protecting users from viruses, malware, and other abusive content is central to user safety. We apologize for the disruption and will put processes in place to prevent this from happening again.

Best,

Julianne

Google Docs Community

How ‘Obamacare’ propaganda works

ObamaCare propaganda is simple and not at all sophisticated.

Like almost all ObamaCare news stories, the article linked below discusses benefits only – and never, ever mentions that half the market receives no subsidies and never, ever mentions an actual cost per month for people paying for health insurance.

Did you know that some have ACA annual premiums as high as $49,000 per year for a basic Silver plan? Yes, seriously. Read on to learn more. And how the media hides this information from you.

Most news reports about the ACA are like this: If they quote an insurance premium they typically select age 27, and rarely, age 40. But the rates from 21 to 40 are nearly flat – about 270% of the price increase occurs after age 43! This presents the public with a misleading view of premium costs.

By leaving out critical information and presenting only benefits, why would anyone have any concerns about ObamaCare?

This article by the Associated Press and their member news organizations is propaganda messaging. You will literally be dumber for having read the AP article!

Source: ‘Obamacare’ curveball: free insurance in 1,500-plus counties | The Seattle Times

NPR has a similar propaganda piece, mentioning only benefits – never, ever mentioning actual problems with ObamaCare. This is PR puffery, not journalism.

Cherry Picking and Censorship Methods of Propaganda

Let’s look at real numbers for 2018 – all of which are omitted from the AP’s “errors by omission” piece. This falls under the propaganda method of “censorship” – literally cutting out information that contradicts the propaganda message.

  • In Flagstaff, AZ the least cost Silver plan for a 64 year old married couple making $65,000/year in pre-tax income is about $35,000/year – which is less than last year!

You might be thinking, but don’t they get a subsidy? No. The subsidy cut off limit is completely unrelated to the cost of insurance; its based on the regional poverty income level.

Let’s look at another example – it gets worse!

  • In Laramie, WY, the lowest cost Silver plan for this 64 year old couple earning $65,000 per year and above the subsidy cut off is a whopping $49,100 per year! With a $5,000 deductible on the policy, they’ll pay about 100% of their after tax income before collecting on their insurance. (Oddly, the cheapest Gold policy is a bargain at just over $40,000/year – but we use the Silver as the benchmark, just like HHS does.)

If they earned only $64,000, they would receive about $43,000 in direct subsidy. Since insurance is paid for with after tax dollars, that is similar to earning $50,000 before taxes. This illustrates how upside down and crazy this has become – by earning $1,000 less, they receive a pre-tax benefit greater than the their direct cost of insurance! ($50k pre-tax value compared to $49k after taxes paid value.) This is insanity!

What’s going on?

There are two defects (of many) in the ACA that are at work here.

  • First, the subsidy cut off level has no relation to the insurance cost – it is based on the regional poverty level. Consequently, even though rates may take up 100% of your after tax income, you do not receive a subsidy.
  • Second, the way the ACA works is that those who receive subsidies are paying essentially the same price as in 2014. As insurers raise rates, the government increases the subsidy. But the subsidy cut off level continues to track the regional poverty level. Rates can climb as high as they want but the subsidy level remains unchanged!

The second point is why 1,500+ counties will have “free insurance” policies – the subsidies have grown so enormous that taxpayers now pay everything.

This “freebie” is a side effect of the super high cost of insurance in the ACA market places – it is not “by design”.

Insurance companies may be gaming the system. They can focus on the subsidized half of the market – and raise rates without limits because the government will always increase the subsidies. Subsidies, of course, are funded by taxpayers and transfer money from taxpayers to the insurance companies.

  • Can find a news report that covers any of this?
  • Update: Finally – at last! The Oregonian quotes prices for a 60 year old and notes that in the market they checked, the price is now $918/month for one person (or $22,032 for a married couple, a detail they leave out). The article notes provider networks are cut to small sizes and many insurers have left the non-metro markets.

To learn more about this problem – and possible solutions – read my full paper. (My paper did influence policy makers in my own state, by the way.)

“Errors of Omission” via Cherry Picking and Censorship

This example illustrates the power of every day propaganda messaging. The media has never critically reported on ObamaCare and largely writes fluff pieces discussing only benefits. The general public receives a skewed perspective on ObamaCare when real life problems and actual defects in the Act are hidden from view. Problems that are hidden cannot be fixed and the act of hiding the problems leaves us worse off.

Many in the media have been cheerleaders for ObamaCare – they are not objective reporters. Consequently the news media earns a reputation for  propaganda messaging. By leaving out critical data, they have created a fictional story through the use of cherry picking and censorship.