Monthly Archives: January 2018

Facebook users decrease usage an average of 2 minutes per day

Much noise is being made over Facebook seeing a decline in usage of 50 million hours per day and a decline in number of daily users in North America.
Source: Facebook stock falls 4 percent as user time dips, revenue growth slows
Facebook is continually tweaking its algorithms for what information is presented in our FB news feed – sometimes to increase engagement, sometimes to increase ad sales, sometimes to apparently decrease engagement.

As long time users of Facebook reduce their minutes of usage, FB aggressively seeks to get them back

More and more people seem to be reducing their involvement with social media. Not necessarily eliminating social media but curtailing the amount of time they spend online and making fewer posts.
In response, Facebook seems more aggressive about emailing users reminding them of updates from friends and urging them to log in.
When I do not log in for a few days, I get pestered with emails from Facebook urging me to see what my friends are doing. If I log in each day, I appear to see no emails from Facebook.
This aggressiveness suggests reports of less Facebook usage are a real thing and may suggest a problem for ad supported social media moving forward.
Source: Facebook Really Wants You to Come Back – Bloomberg
Why are people reducing their Facebook usage? We can guess there are many factors including

  • the novelty of social media sharing has worn off
  • many users are becoming aware of the emotional and mental health problems with some social media usage (such as being surrounded by the culture of outrage that seems to be shouting at us all time time)
  • feelings of inadequacy caused by others posting attractive selfies at exotic vacation destinations
  • And so forth
  • A desire to reconnect with real people in real life, rather than virtual friends in virtual reality


Highly successful propaganda operation concerning road and highway funding

“Hundreds of bridges in Oregon and Southwest Washington are structurally deficient, according to a new report released Tuesday.”

Source: Bridges in trouble: Report names hundreds of Ore., Wash. ‘structurally deficient’ bridges | KATU
The organization that issued this report is a lobbying organization:

“Established in 1902, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.”

Congress is about to consider legislation that might fund infrastructure spending in the 1 to 1.5 trillion dollar range.
The organization’s report uses fear as its primary means of propaganda messaging based on two sets of words:

  • “Crumbling infrastructure”
  • “Structurally deficient”

Each year they issue reports which the news media dutifully reports as about America’s “crumbling infrastructure”. Their propaganda is so successful that one seldom see a news article about infrastructure without “crumbling” placed in front of “infrastructure”.
The group’s goal is to persuade the public to spend money on infrastructure improvements that translate into business for members of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
Terminology or careful selection of words plays a major role in propaganda messaging. In the past, bridges that needed to be repainted were labeled “structurally deficient” (appears to still be true, page 68). Similarly, standards have changed – a bridge that has an overhead clearance of less than 14 feet or lane widths less than contemporary standards are now considered structurally deficient (technically they are “functionally obsolete” but those are rolled up into the “structurally deficient” count). Bridges that have lead-based paint may be considered “structurally deficient”.
‘”Structurally deficient” does not imply that it is likely to collapse or that it is unsafe.”‘

A “deficient” bridge is one with some maintenance concerns that do not pose a safety risk. A “deficient” bridge typically requires maintenance and repair and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to address deficiencies.

This is similar to saying your car needs an oil and air filter change, therefore your car is structurally deficient.
Because the public’s concept of “structurally deficient” is different than the civil engineers’ view of “structurally deficient”, this choice of wording is effective in persuading the public to give more money to civil engineers.
Which is why this is a tremendously successful propaganda messaging operation.
Of course, there are bridges, roadways and tunnels that need work or replacement but it is difficult for the public to make informed decisions when those with a conflict of interest are running the public propaganda campaign.
Note – this post is NOT about whether or not transportation and other infrastructure facilities need to be repaired, rebuilt or expanded. This post is about the obvious propaganda messaging undertaken and, in particular, how the use of wording or language itself can be used to deliver a propaganda messaging. Public opinion polls will subsequently be run to show how much the public supports “fixing America’s crumbling infrastructure”. These polls results will then be used to influence spending priorities of elected representatives.

The public, of course, generally knows nothing about the details of highways and bridges but instead forms their opinion from the propaganda messaging that has been delivered to them. They have been told repeatedly about “America’s crumbling infrastructure” and its scary sounding “structurally deficient” bridges.

Public opinion polls do not really measure public opinion – they measure the success of propaganda operations!

Social media's surveillance-of-users business model may get regulation

Most people associate Facebook with cute family photos and think of Google like a semi-reliable encyclopedia. But these services have only a tangential relationship to the way either company actually makes money. The twin Silicon Valley titans rely on two closely intertwined technologies, customer surveillance and advertising, to maximize shareholder profits.

Source: Facebook And Google’s Surveillance Capitalism Model Is In Trouble | HuffPost
Social media’s surveillance of end users conflicts with European laws, and may conflict with the general public’s wishes, if the general public understood what these companies are doing with their collection of personal data about all of us.