Category Archives: Cherry Picking

Many on social media are misquoting #Wikileaks

Recent releases from Wikileaks are, without question, exposing ethical failures and outright corruption in our government officials. The emails contain enormous evidence that this is occurring and that our government officials are as corrupt as the worst in the world.

That said, numerous people are posting excerpts on social media that are taken 100% out of context, to say something that is not true.

For example, I have seen this quote widely distributed on social media today, being presented as proof that Hillary Clinton was selling government protection to those who donated to her foundation. But that is not what the email is about:

“This is pretty simple stuff. So Algeria is on the terror list, they want off the terror list, the State Department’s making a decision to do it, they write a check for what? How much? How many million dollars do they write a check for? I don’t know, but Algeria writes a check. You’re from Boston, you know how politics works. They write a really big check to the Clinton Foundation,”

Looks damning, doesn’t it? Until you see that it was speculation from a flaky TV reporter.

The original full text is clear: this is a direct quote from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who was creating hypothetical scenarios.

Another example was a quote that Hillary Clinton apparently “hates everyday Americans”. Those words appear in the emails. However, this was in reference to her disliking the typical politician’s use of the phrase “everyday Americans”; she disliked the phrase.

With the normal mass media ignoring the 9,000 (so far) emails released by Wikileaks, and ignoring the documents released by DC Leaks and Guccifer 2, it is easy for poorly done crowd sourcing to take control of the story line and spread untrue statements on social media.

Again, the various released documents and emails contain a documented pattern of sleaze and corruption. There is more than enough to share that is legitimate corruption. However, spreading false statements dilutes the message and ultimately harms the messenger.

Disclaimer: I am absolutely not defending Clinton. The emails indicate a clear and unmistakable pattern of deceit and corruption. The purpose of this blog is to look at how social media is used to spread propaganda. In this situation, social media is spreading untrue statements by quickly taking quotes out of context. The use of out context quotes is a typical pattern common in propaganda messaging, whether by experts or social media amateurs. It is just another form of cherry picking to make a point.

Related: Beware of fake documents on social media purporting to be from Wikileaks

 

 

False assertion and False choice: Tesla versus Edison poster

The following poster has appeared many times in my social media feed. The conclusion you are intended to draw is also false.

11863277_867136550022717_8749393187683884450_nSource

 

Another variation:

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TL; DR Summary

  • These posters imply that Tesla cared about people more than making money versus Thomas Edison, who he once worked for as an employee (or another version of the poster, the evil person is George Westinghhouse) who only cared about making money.
  • In reality, Tesla’s nearly 300 patents made him a very rich man. However, he invested in many bad projects and died a pauper. George Westinghouse, who adopted Tesla’s AC electrical system design, personally made sure that Tesla was cared for in old age.
  • While Tesla may have cared about people, he was also a fan of eugenics or the selective breeding of people to eliminate “undesirables” from the population. Other fans of eugenics included the founder of Planned Parenthood and Hitler. Many people were caught up in that movement.
  • My own textbooks all mentioned Tesla; it is unclear why the posters imply we never heard of Tesla.
  • Bottom line: These posters make false assertions and reach false conclusions. The posters are false.

Read on for the details …

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Leaving out details to make a story more dramatic

14517523_913408235470624_6271785127124202065_nTL;DR Summary

  • Milwaukee police “accidentally” shot a 13 year old girl at an elementary school after she became “combative”.’
  • By placing the word “accidentally” in quotes, followed by the word “combative”, this propaganda poster sets the viewer up to believe the police intentionally shot a 13 year old “combative” girl.
  • The poster leaves out that the officer’s gun was in the holster and that the MPD weapons do not have holster safeties. This information negates the attempted spin on the story. A little more information here.
  • There are valid questions as to how and why the police officer’s weapon discharged while in its holster. That should not have happened.
  • The purpose of this post is to illustrate how selective information – and leaving out key information – can spin and shape the emotional response to a social media propaganda poster. Keep in mind – propaganda posters are not created to inform you but to persuade you to adopt someone else’s agenda.
  • The above poster appears to have originated with Counter Current News, on Facebook. Counter Current News is an online, social media based for-profit publishing business that target’s conspiracy theory enthusiasts. Many such businesses target political enthusiasts; Occupy Democrats is an online, social media for-profit publishing business that targets left wing political enthusiasts. There are many examples of these for profit publishing businesses that pull at the emotions of their target audience.
  • These types of businesses design propaganda posters to emotionally rile up their target audience, who then share the posters online. To learn more about each poster, viewers are encouraged to click a link to the publisher’s web site, where the full story is accompanied by advertising. This type of social media based publishing has become popular and is aimed at ideological enthusiasts.

Did attack dogs bite a little girl in the face at pipeline protest in North Dakota?

girl-attackedTL;DR Summary

  • Graphic photo of a little girl with bite wounds to her face was presented online as proof that attack dogs were unleashed on Native American and other protesters at an oil pipeline construction site in North Dakota.
  • This photo was then passed on social media, including online comments at “news” sites, as proof of the vicious attacks by dogs.
  • The photo, however, first appeared in a June 26, 2012 NY Daily News report about a dog attack that occurred in Texas. This photo has nothing to do with the events in North Dakota.
  • This is a classic example of social media propaganda used to incite riots based on false information. Social media almost instantly descends into mob mentality, lynching everyone in their path, including the innocent.

Read on to discover the fascinating history behind this false social media meme and how this became an established “fact”, in spite of it being an outright lie.

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