Category Archives: Politics

Using outright lies to inflame the target and spread propaganda

11800154_1666909613542254_6320716305316920615_nTL;DR Summary

To accuse a health care practitioner of murder, as done in this social media poster, is libel.

This is one of the most disturbing and vicious propaganda posters distributed on Facebook.  This poster illustrates the horrendous danger of social media, the sick individuals who inhabit social media (and newspaper comment forums) and the undue influence they hold over others through spreading their own messages of hate.

This example illustrates how easy it is to
1. Create a propaganda poster out of anything, twisting the original out of context.
2. Quickly spread it on social media – because people share without thinking.
3. And stupidly engage in online libel.

I do not know the original source for this altered image but it has been shared widely online, and then commented by many other people who believe the poster is accurate. Thus, an outright lie was turned into a “true fact” by propaganda, even though it is absolutely false.

Social media is very, very frightening. Outright lies are shared and turned into “true facts” through friction-less social media sharing, leading to the creation of a false virtual world where people who vote are making future decisions based on falsehoods.

The more you examine social media propaganda the more you realize, “What if you everything you think you know is a big lie?” (See next post below this one)

How do we get control over this spread of falsehood and hate on line – by people who would never ever view themselves as discriminatory and yet routinely group individuals by their membership in a group (the exact behavior or racism, sexism, ageism, ethnic-ism, etc). This behavior cuts to the core of the thinking processes of those who engage in these behaviors.

Oroville Dam emergency turns in to social media political propaganda opportunity

Just hours after a mass evacuation order was given, the emergency in Northern California turned social media into its usual outrage culture filled with political propaganda. This event has provided a real time illustration of the way that social media is collapsing in on itself.

The first and third comments in this screen capture illustrate both sides:






Water scientist Peter Gleick says he cannot tell which is worse: “gloating comments” on social media might be worse than evacuating 190,000 people under threat of flooding and loss of life  – and he cannot tell which is worse? (His comments reinforce his documented reputation for unethical behavior.)

The environmental spin:



At this point, we don’t know the cause of the Oroville Dam problems – design, construction, maintenance, operational management errors, policy maker decisions, weather, uncertainty, history of floods in the area and so on – but on social media, we know the cause with precision …. or perhaps someone doesn’t want to let a crisis go to waste when it presents an opportunity for propaganda messaging. (There were numerous tweets similar to the above.)

The above were posted within 1-3 hours of the evacuation order.

The next day, but less than 24 hours since the evacuation order was given, Twitter’s #OrovilleDam tag has turned into mostly political propaganda. Literally, nearly half of the tweets were politicizing the disaster:

Some begin to note that turning a real time disaster in to politicking looks awkward:

These two appeared adjacent to one another on Twitter:

And so on. Never let a disaster of unknown cause go to waste when there is social media propaganda to spread!

(Note – I waited until after the crisis was largely resolved before publishing this post. The evacuation order was lifted yesterday afternoon.)

Creating artificial social media pundits to manipulate public opinion

Everyone is working to manipulate you on social media:

“It’s recently been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like. It could then potentially have their “fake” people run smear campaigns against those “real” people. As disturbing as this is, it’s not really new for U.S. intelligence or private intelligence firms to do the dirty work behind closed doors.”

Source: Army of fake social media friends to promote propaganda

Read the full article at the link. The article is from 2011 – think about how far these methods have advanced in the previous 5-6 years since then.

Social media amplifies the power of propaganda messaging

There’s another type of “fake news” that surfaces during virtually every political campaign: propaganda. Propaganda is weaponized speech that mixes truthful, deceptive and false speech, and is designed explicitly to strengthen one side and weaken the other. Propaganda has been around for a long time, preceding the era of mass media. …. tools such as Twitter and Facebook may make propaganda harder to detect and debunk. Many citizens are skeptical of claims made by politicians and parties, but are less apt to question news shared by their friends. On a medium like Facebook which gives primacy to information shared by friends, political propaganda spreads rapidly, reaching a reader from all sides, and can be difficult to distinguish from fact-based news.

Source: Fake news is a red herring | World | DW.COM | 25.01.2017

Emphasis added above – which highlights that Facebook, especially, has become a friction-less conduit for the spread of propaganda. Today, everyone can be a propagandist – no printing press or broadcast license is required. Just post on Facebook and Twitter!

Facebook filters what you see on your news feed to primarily those posts that Facebook’s computers think you want to see. You end up with a machine curated set of posts that tend to further isolate your view of the world, turning Facebook into an idealized platform for the distribution of propaganda and controlling group thoughts.

While social media propaganda may not – yet – have a profound impact on the world around us, it does seem to be associated with more screaming, shouting and extremist outrage. And that may be because Facebook amplifies the messages you see through their filtered news time line.

(The linked article, by an MIT professor, describes various manifestations of “fake news” but leaves out one of the most important types of fake news: that which originates from online, social media-based, for profit publishing businesses. These publishing businesses use propaganda and sales methods to hook readers in to sharing their “news” where “news” is often fiction, not true, exaggerated, hyper-partisan and/or marketed with emotion grabbing inflammatory headlines and quotes.)