Category Archives: Computational Propaganda

Watch Mark Zuckerberg lie in the 2009 BBC TV Interview

Watch the short clip here.
He says Facebook will never sell your user information. “No, of course not,” he answers. “They [users] want to share it with, um, with only a few people.”
The BBC interview reiterates the questions and Zuckerberg again lies with a straight face.
You are not going to restore trust in Facebook when the CEO is a liar.

True: Social media is a threat to democracy

Underlying the furor surrounding the use of illicitly obtained Facebook data in the 2016 presidential campaign is the rise of what one expert calls “mass micro persuasion.” Campaigns are growing ever more sophisticated in sifting vast amounts of social media and voting data to tailor political messages to individuals.

Source: New concern in social media age: profiling as a threat to democracy
mass micro persuasion” – propaganda used to be messaging directed to groups to persuade all to adopt someone else’s agenda. With social media, we can direct propaganda crafted to the individual.

Using psychographic profiles from lifted Facebook personal user information did not actually work

Well, there goes Facebook’s business model 🙂

“What they’re doing is bullshit, basically,” said Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook employee who helped build the social network’s ad-targeting operation. “This has been tried before. There’s no reason to think it’s particularly powerful.”
….
And a Democratic operative who works in the digital realm said claims of Cambridge Analytica’s effectiveness in 2016 are very much overstated.
….
“The idea that they had a robust data campaign is just not true,” she said. “They were doing very best practice stuff on the Facebook side, but they weren’t doing this universally. It wasn’t deep or robust.”
She agreed with the political operatives that there is little evidence to support claims that Cambridge Analytica helped swing the election.

Source: Cambridge Analytica’s effectiveness called into question despite alleged Facebook data harvesting

Google launches program to combat fake news

Of course, it could end up with biases that turn it into yet-another propaganda operation, by flagging legitimate stories that have “wrong public opinion orientation”.

On our own platforms, we’re focused on combating misinformation during breaking news situations.  Bad actors often target breaking news on Google platforms, increasing the likelihood that people are exposed to inaccurate content. So we’ve trained our systems to recognize these events and adjust our signals toward more authoritative content. There are comparable challenges on YouTube, and we’re taking a similar approach, highlighting relevant content from verified news sources in a “Top News” shelf.
But we’re also working directly with news organizations to combat misinformation. We’re launching the Disinfo Lab alongside the First Draft to combat mis- and disinformation during elections and breaking news moments. Finally, to help consumers distinguish fact from fiction online,  we’re teaming up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association to launch MediaWise, a U.S. project designed to improve digital information literacy for young consumers.

Source: The Google News Initiative: Building a stronger future for news
This initiative will be used, and certainly gamed by many parties, to censor information not coming from approved sources. In other words, this could devolve into quite a propaganda coup.