Monthly Archives: December 2017

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?

Facebook deletes FB, Instagram accounts of Head of Chechen Republic

The Head of the Chechen Republic is the title formerly known as “President of Chechen Republic”.

The strongman leader of the Chechen Republic has long been a prolific social media user, filling his accounts with photos of him cuddling his cat, lifting weights or soliciting poems about President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

So when Ramzan Kadyrov’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, which had four million followers between them, were unexpectedly taken down on Dec. 23, people took notice.

A Facebook spokeswoman said that Mr. Kadyrov’s accounts were deactivated because he had just been added to a United States sanctions list and that the company was legally obligated to act.

Facebook removes social media accounts of Chechen Republic leader

Twitter curates the Tweets you see

Many Twitter tweets I see are from people I do not follow yet their tweets appear in my Twitter feed. Why?
Twitter inserts them because they can!
Twitter inserts others tweets into each of our feeds based on its own secret algorithms. By choosing to insert tweets from people we choose not to follow, Twitter introduces its own potential propaganda messaging. 100% of such tweets I checked are political in nature – and I do not know why I am seeing them.
Source: Yes, Twitter is putting tweets in your timeline from people you don’t follow
Another reason I am no longer a regular user of Twitter.
(I filed this under Censorship as the closest matching category – by increasing the noise to signal ratio, Twitter is censoring the content I wanted to see.)

We watched a social media propaganda theme explode in real time – and you won't believe what happened next!

This past week we learned about social media idiots!
In a world where facts and logic no longer matter, a train derailment on the first paying passenger run on a brand new, $181 million upgraded rail corridor, completed as part of an $800 million dollar infrastructure upgrade, is:

  1. An example of America’s “crumbling infrastructure”
  2. An example of America’s lack of investment in infrastructure
  3. An example that future budgets (which might cut infrastructure spending) caused this crash, in the present
  4. An example that Congress is stealing from the poor and giving to the wealthy
  5. Caused by Antifa pouring concrete on the tracks

All of these “instant” explanations were shared on social media because never let an event go unused for political propaganda messaging! And never let facts or logic intervene either!
In the real world, the propagandists promoting these messages were idiots – all of them.
The Reality

Option 6. Social media is filled with idiots

The rail line is brand new and is owned by Sound Transit, a government agency; the train cars are owned by the State of Washington and the State of Oregon which subsidize 40% of the costs and hire Amtrak to run the train. This was the first paying passenger run on the new line.
A total of $800 million was spent on the PNW corridor as a just completed infrastructure upgrade. 
Washington State Department of Transportation explained that the track is new as is the lead locomotive. The system has an active train control system designed to prevent over speed accidents but it had not yet been activated.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a data recorder on the train showed it traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph speed zone. Physics – not infrastructure spending – caused the train to fly off the tracks (see also).
Social Media is Dominated by Idiots

The track and locomotive were BRAND NEW. You are an idiot.

Everything was BRAND NEW as a result of infrastructure investment. You are an idiot.

The track was BRAND NEW. Education investment played a role? You are an idiot.

The track was BRAND NEW. You are an idiot.



Fake news sites InfoWars and GatewayPundit, spread rumors that Antifa caused the train wreck, spreading pointless speculation in the absence of evidence (but but but speculation is okay you know!). Idiots.

Right-wing hysteria web site DrudgeReport presented the story this way – not one bit of it was true – it all false to the point of being fake news:

Newsweek has a long track record of misreporting and was the only news outlet to spin the story as in their headline. Idiots.

A day later, CNN jumped in with a pretend news report, rich in speculation, critical of not having enacted an infrastructure spending bill in 2017. All of which was irrelevant to the train crash but fit the fake news meme du jour popular on social media and in much of the media.
We went down this path before

In July 2015, Occupy Democrats blamed Republican investment in wars – and not infrastructure – for the collapse of an old bridge that was intentionally being demolished by construction crews because a brand new bridge had just been completed. Their followers shared this item tens of thousands of times on social media.
Facts and Logic No Longer Matter
All that matters is your feelings. If you feel a brand new train, crossing a brand new rail line funded with $800 million of infrastructure improvements – is an example of not funding infrastructure then your feelings must be true. Or a sign that you are idiot.
When a social media platform becomes over run with idiots, the value of that platform to everyone else goes down. Why spend time reviewing posts or tweets when so much of it is not true, fake news, or just outrage?
Since the train crash, I’ve largely stopped using Twitter and deleted the Twitter app from my phone and tablet. The signal to noise ratio dropped too low this past week.