Category Archives: Social Media

London attacks show how anyone can be a propagandist

After the Westminster attack in London, some one posted a photo on social media purporting to show a Muslim woman indifferent to the carnage. The photo went viral but of course, was out of context. Yet the social media outrage culture quickly condemned her and an entire ethnic group, all due to a propaganda lie.

The photographer whose photo was stolen and distributed has provided additional photos showing she was clearly as distraught as everyone else, as anyone with a brain would expect.

Source: Photographer who took picture of Muslim woman trolled for ‘casually’ walking by London terror attack victim reveals the truth

This example illustrates how propaganda no longer needs a broadcast license or a printing press. Thanks to social media, any idiot can be in the propaganda business.

This also illustrates how social media has become the most powerful tool in the hands of propagandists everywhere, who are using social media to make all of us worse off.

Did a Congressman really say we do not need satellites because we have the Weather Channel?

The 2017 social media meme:

2017 True Story: A Congressman was at a hearing for a request for funding for GOES satellites. He asked the scientist why do we need to spend money on satellites when you can turn on the weather channel and get the weather!

TL;DR Summary

  • This quote appears in 2000 and 2007 and 2011 and has nothing to do with events in 2017.
  • As we will see, it appears several people who claim to have been told this were either confused or are lying.

2000:

“… we must avoid replicating the error of the US congressman who questioned the need for (publicly funded) weather satellites on the ground that the Weather Channel is available on cable TV.” (page 8, The Nature and Dynamics of Organizational Capabilities).

2007:

“But that is not always the case for politicians and some of the public, as illustrated by the congressman mentioned in the previous chapter who was not interesting in funding a weather satellite when you could already watch the Weather Channel” (page 57, Space as a Strategic Asset, and previous chapter did not mention any congressman.)

2011:

“I had a member of Congress tell me, “I don’t need your weather satellites, I have the Weather Channel.” (quote from Jane Lubchenco, head of NOAA, as quoted in a media interview).

This social media meme sounds plausible at first glance, but the attribution to an anonymous Congressman is our first clue that this most likely a false quote. Oddly, several people each claim to have been told this by a member of Congress, yet clearly, when the track goes back to at least 2000, this implies the author in 2007 and Jane Lubchenko in 2011 were potentially lying.

Social media memes – and fake news – are often crafted by leaving out details necessary to verify the authenticity of the story. Here, by leaving out the name of the Congressman, there is nothing to fact check. Similarly, referencing the GOES satellite systems adds an aura of legitimacy to the statement.

Leaving out critical details is a key aspect of fake news reports, some of which are published by major media outlets. Over a decade ago, one of the nation’s most well recognized newspapers published a story about an “ordinary transport ship” having reached the North Pole without the aid of an ice breaker.

The story gave the ship’s name, which was easily looked up online. I found the complete specification for this “ordinary transport ship” at the Finland-based ship manufacturer.

In the real world, this “ordinary transport ship” had twice the ice breaking capability of the largest ice breaker in the U.S. fleet. Indeed, at that time, about 70 “transport ships” operated by Russia were actually ice breakers re-fitted for dual use as cargo hauling transport ships.

I sent this verified information to the corrections editor of this well known newspaper. I never received an acknowledgement.

What did the newspaper do about this error in the story?

They deleted the name of the ship so that no one else could then fact check their story. Their fake news story – from one of the nation’s best known news papers – lives on to this day, minus the ship name.

By removing a key element needed to verify the authenticity of the story, fake news can live forever, unchallenged.

Everyone plays the fake news game, including famous publishers.

 

 

The perpetually outraged on social media are virtue signaling their personal goodness

As noted on our blog, for many users turn social media into a platform for perpetual outage, with their outrage volume set to 11. Why do they do it?

A research paper explains:

Getting outraged on others’ behalf often isn’t about altruism but soothing personal guilt and asserting one’s status as a good person.

Source: Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists

In other words, the perpetually outraged think they are virtue signaling that they are better than others.

And

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.”

Very, very, very few outraged posts I see on social media have to do with issues that impact the outraged poster, directly. This is why I have been perplexed by the level of outrage displayed. The study described here, however, finds that directing “outrage at a third-party decreased guilt”. Expressing outrage “inflated participants perception of personal morality” – in other words, social media outrage is virtual signaling that you are better than others.

Paid propagandists control social media discourse

Attkisson: When people get online every day and take part in social media or do searches for news, what is it you think they don’t know?

Matthew Brown: I don’t think they know they’re being manipulated.

Matthew Brown is a data analyst who pierces the secrecy behind paid efforts to influence online.

Attkisson: What areas of the Internet are used to shape and manipulate opinion?

Matthew Brown: Everywhere social. Everywhere social means specific Facebook pages, but it also means the comment sections in every major newspaper.

Brown began investigating after his health insurance costs tripled and he commented about it on the Obamacare Facebook page. He got bombarded, he says, by digital activists disguised as ordinary people.

Brown: Digital activists are paid employees; their purpose is to attack anyone who’s posting something contrary to the view the page owner wants expressed.

Brown decided to use analysis software to crunch the numbers. He evaluated 226,000 pro-Obamacare posts made by 40,000 Facebook profiles. What he found was remarkable.

Brown: 60 percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time.

Attkisson: Which means what?

Matthew Brown: They were paid to post.

Source: Sum of Knowledge Part 1