Category Archives: Facts

The sole purpose of social media is mass manipulation

At a prior meeting, Turnbull told the reporters: “Our job is to really drop the bucket further down the well than anybody else to understand what are these really deep-seated fears, concerns. “It is no good fighting an election campaign on the facts, because actually it is all about emotion.”

Source: Cambridge Analytica Stage-Managed Kenyan President’s Campaigns: UK TV | Top News | US News
The most powerful tool in the propagandists tool kit is fear.
The sole purpose of social media is as a propaganda platform for the purpose of mind control and mass manipulation.

Nonsense: "Social Media Firms Got Played by Russian Agents"

Indictment shows how Facebook and Twitter got seriously played by Russian agents.

Source: Indictment: Social Media Firms Got Played by Russian Agents | Business News | US News
More media nonsense. Facebook and Twitter were not “played”. Their basic design and business model makes an idealized platform for the dissemination of propaganda from everyone. Twitter actually solicited RT to run an ad campaign during the U.S. election. Neither Facebook nor Twitter was “played” by Russian agents. Facebook and Twitter were both doing exactly what they are designed to do.
The news article even contradicts the subheading, quoted above, which notes their business incentives (or model) “don’t necessarily align” with fixing the problem. Duh?
 

Social media viral meme: 18 school shootings since January 1?

According to the Washington Post, the number is fake. It was spread on social media as propaganda from a non-profit organization.
Source: No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong. – The Washington Post
This post is not about pro-gun or anti-gun issues but about the use of social media for propaganda efforts.
A number originating from a non-profit sounds legitimate – but its actually using the “Appeal to Authority” form of argument combined with lying.
Within a short time interval, this fake claim spread rapidly on social media and became a “fact” that professional news reporters picked up and reported.  Once a fake “fact” is published by the professional news services, others will then use that as verification that the claim is true.
From a propaganda effectiveness perspective, this gets an A grade.
It is perplexing why the group chose to exaggerate their count as there are sufficient numbers of shootings to make their point without resorting to being misleading. One would think being misleading would lead to subsequent distrust.
However, remember that in propaganda messaging, the first message people hear is the one that “sticks” – even if subsequently shown to be untrue or misleading. This is why this technique – exaggeration or misleading information – is very effective as a form of propaganda.
When combined with social media sharing, false claims can be widely distributed to the point they turn into “facts” that stick in the mind of the target.
Update: From the comments to the WaPo article, many suggest its okay to be misleading if it leads to someone’s desired conclusion. Or something.

Much news reporting is pure speculation, not actual reporting

I ran across a link to an old CNN Money financial news report from October 24, 2016. Every speculation made in this news report was wrong and illustrates how much “news” is not really reporting on events but is speculation about the future.

One week before the 2016 Presidential election, CNN Money’s report is titled

Key points:

  • If Donald Trump wins, U.S. stocks – and likely world markets – will “almost certainly tank”
  • “A Trump victory would be “America’s Brexit.” It would shock U.S. and global markets, much like the surprise, June referendum in the U.K.”
  • “Almost everyone on Wall Street currently predicts Hillary Clinton will win”
  • “A Trump triumph would likely cause investors to flee stocks to the safety of gold and bonds”.
  • “the market is already pricing in a Clinton win”
  • Voters like a split government but “there’s a growing fear that the Senate — and even the House — could flip [to Democrats] if voters come out strongly for Democrats.”
  • There is a 71% chance Democrats retake the Senate
  • “All the ‘market metrics’ point to a Clinton victory

All of the key points were speculation and were wrong.

Do watch the CNN video at the link and do watch the reporter’s body language. (The reporter no longer works for CNN. She now works for the Washington Post.)

Impact on Social Media and Propaganda

These news reports are entertainment stories designed to occupy your time while pretending to inform you.

These stories become the basis for social media conversations as they are Shared, Liked and Commented on via Twitter and Facebook.

These stories whip some into emotional outrage. In reality these stories waste our time – we are not better off for having watched or read a story that ended up being 100% wrong. In fact, we may be worse off.

Speculative Stories Are Easily Spun into High Emotional Impact Stories

Large numbers of news reports are pure speculation about the future; none are ever a scorecard of whether past speculation proved true or false. Speculative stories are entertainment to fill a 24 x 7 news cycle, to keep our eyes glued for the delivery of advertising messages. Reporters can find an authority (“Appeal to authority”) to find any quote they want. Speculative stories are easily spun into high emotion grabbing content, which is perfect for Sharing – or merely to lull our brains into being more susceptible to advertisements.

Bottom line: Learn to recognize speculative news reports and do not take them seriously. Learn to think for yourself and question whether someone is spinning a story to persuade you of something. Avoid sharing speculation on social media – all that does is amplify that you’ve wasted your time and think your friends should waste their time too.

Disclaimer – The U.S. is so polarized that I am required to post a disclaimer: reminder, I did not vote for Trump and the above comments are not pro- or anti-Trump but are a comment about the use of speculation as an editorial technique to inflame our emotions and engage us into social media propaganda sharing.

Supporting Data

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