Public Relations Failure: British Airways and the silly high visibility vest

The CEO of British Airways, standing in their operations center, apologizes for their terrible service and lack of contingency/disaster planning:

As you may know, it is essential that one wears a high visibility safety vest when standing in a computer operations center! Or maybe not.

Seriously, the reason for this odd clothing choice is that his public relations staff said it would help him look like he was “hands on” in the midst of the crisis.

You might remember when President Bush showed up after Hurricane Katrina wearing a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up – because staff thought having rolled up sleeves made it look like he was there and working on the problem.

Everything around us is stage managed fakery designed to influence our thinking process. At least a few people on social media noticed the absurdity of a high visibility vest in a computer operations center. His second video ditched the vest.

When PR staff think this nonsense is a priority in the midst of a systemic collapse of the company’s systems – you’ve gotta wonder about the clueless people working in PR.

 

 

Two heroes murdered in Portland defending teens against anti-Muslim hate speech

An individual harassed two teen women on Portland’s Trimet MAX rail system, verbally attacking Muslims and others. Three local heroes stepped up to stop the verbal assault and two were murdered by the attacker and one remains hospitalized.

Not surprisingly, social media, even some professional media, plus the comments to news stories, turned the story in to a political event, blaming “alt-right”, Trump and Trump supporters and Republicans. The Huffington Post writes a column blaming Trump and others.

The tiny problem with this thesis is that the alleged murderer was a Bernie Sanders supporter and voted for Bernie Sanders. He said so on his FB page. He also appeared to support Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. He also attended “alt-right” public events. He was vociferously opposed to Hillary Clinton and said little about Trump other than publicly calling for the assassination of AG Jeff Sessions and Trump.

One of the defenders, who was murdered, was a past Republican Party candidate for public office.

In spite of these facts, many in the social media crowd blamed Trump and Republicans for the behavior of the alleged murderer.

As The Willamette Weekly notes, the only consistency in the alleged murderer’s rants is that he was extremely racist. Newsweek, a reliable source of fake news, uses the propaganda method of transference to link the alleged murderer to Trump.

Never let facts get in the way of an opportunity to promote one’s personal ideology on social media! This story is a sad commentary not only on the ugliness that spawned such hate to occur, but also on the public’s desire to immediately jump to a conclusion that matches their preconceived notions, without questioning. The social media commentary turned so ugly that The Oregonian had to disable commenting on their news stories.

People literally believe anything they want to believe. Social media, and in particular, Facebook’s implementation of social media (FB presents posts in your timeline that FB believes you want to see), serves to reinforce views, even if those views are contrary to facts and logic. Consequently, social media has become the number one platform for the dissemination of propaganda messaging.

To see the evidence of the alleged murder’s political thoughts, click through …

(I live in the Portland area. I am neither Democrat nor Republican and I did not vote for Trump.)

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Montana is a Democratic Party state, not Republican, contrary to news reporting

(Note – this post is about the media – not about the candidates or the political parties).

Actual headlines:

  • In blood red Montana, ObamaCare repeal to blame for close race”
  • “Montana house race is a gauge on Trump, test for Democrats”
  • “House elections to test whether Trump is hurting Republicans”
  • A populist test in Trump country
  • NY Times: “The Montana contest was the second special House election this year in a conservative district…” and further spins, near the end of the article, about Montana being hostile terrain for Democrats.

And so on. There are more headlines implying Montana is a Republican state. Except Montana has a long history of electing Democrats 3 to 1 over Republicans for Federal office:

The assertions made by the media are false.

The media has invented a fictional meme either to create controversy or heightened emotions or is trying to offer a crude explanation as to how a Republican could have won this race. This bad reporting looks like propaganda messaging.

The loser of this election was the media, for telling what is basically a lie. Except for NPR, whose reporting appears accurate and US News, which seems to have the issues sorted out. (FYI, I was in Bozeman days before this election.)

Not surprisingly, 2/3ds of Americans say they think the media publishes fake news. The first headline “In blood red Montana…” is a story written by a professor of political science, no less, which damages the reputation of academics as well. One would think there would be the slightest fact checking on such claims but the media leaves that up to bloggers.

“Twitter and Tear Gas”

How social media “adhocracies” are “more likely to be one-hit wonders” as they enlist social media propaganda to whip people into a frenzy – and how governments and politicians are fighting back using propaganda:

The author is also insightful on how governments and politicians are moving from censorship, no easy task on social media, to attention-grabbing and misinformation.

Source: Why networked protest struggles on the streets

About 2/3ds of voters think the media commonly publishes fake news

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the mainstream press is full of fake news, a sentiment that is held by a majority of voters across the ideological spectrum.

According to data from the latest Harvard-Harris poll, which was provided exclusively to The Hill, 65 percent of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media.”

Source: Poll: Majority says mainstream media publishes fake news | TheHill

2/3ds of voters think the media publishes many fake news reports. Sadly, many of those polled likely share those fake news reports on their social media pages!

Who knows? May be this news report based on the polling of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and the Harris Poll is itself fake news! Now days, we have no way to know whether anything is true anymore!

Solar eclipse will increase fire danger?

“Drought over, but eclipse event will raise fire danger”

That is the odd headline of a KATU local TV news report about Oregon State. Authorities think more people will visit Oregon in the summer of 2017 because of a solar eclipse. Since humans cause wild fires, this will increase the wild fire risk.

To strengthen the claim, the local news story emphasizes:

“According to the National Park Service, 90 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans, from unattended campfires, discarded cigarettes or arson.”

Source: Drought over, but eclipse event will raise fire danger | KATU

Wild fires are a serious threat to life and property and the majority of wild fires in the U.S. are indeed caused by human factors.

But two items in the story are misleading:

  1. The 90% figure comes from here. The actual percentage is 84% (and 44% of total area burned) from the PNAS journal article analysis of wild fire records from 1992-2012. This data point was oddly rounded upwards (0.84 rounds to 0.8, not 0.9) as the larger number has a greater emotional impact, a clue we might be seeing propaganda at work. Further, about 60% of the fires inside National Parks are caused by humans, which is not the figure you perceive given the quote above.
  2. In Oregon 48% of wild fires are human caused, not 90%, according to peer reviewed research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (authored by the same scientist who wrote the 1992-2012 analysis). Click on the link, then click on the SI tab, then download the supporting data PDF. Go to the last page of the downloaded PDF document. Search down for OR and read first 3 columns for % of total fires caused by humans or lightning.

Consider the above in the context of propaganda messaging:  KATU delivered a propaganda message that 90% of wild fires in Oregon are started by humans. This claim is not true for Oregon but is the number anchored in the minds of KATU TV news viewers and web site readers.

This propaganda could lead to state-level activism for increased laws, regulations and funding to reduce “90% of wild fires caused by humans”.

Wild fires are a serious threat to life and property in the U.S. and in Oregon State. The purpose of this post is to illustrate how the news media is an active participant in propaganda messaging and made no effort to verify the authenticity of the information and report on the subject accurately. And given the headline (most people read only headlines on social media!), how many will incorrectly conclude that solar eclipses cause wildfires? 🙂

(I notified KATU news of the above and they did not even acknowledge my note to them. I personally watched the May 20, 2012 solar eclipse visible in Northern California. Oddly, there were no concerns about eclipse related wild fires, even though California was in the midst of a drought.)

Researchers analyzing social media comments to evaluate your mental and physical health

It turns out, the comments we make online reveal a lot about us. Researchers are now analyzing online comments for a wide array of predictive patterns and signals, using Internet discussions and social media as sources of constant, easy-to-access information about what’s going on in people’s lives.

 

Their efforts may eventually allow health professionals to monitor patients’ well-being based on their Twitter streams and Facebook entries. Controversially, employers or insurance companies could one day screen job applicants and potential clients based on their social media status updates.

Source: What online comments can reveal about the person behind the keyboard – The Globe and Mail

Researchers say they can predict “personality traits, or their levels of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, based on their Twitter histories”.

They say they can now predict the heart-disease mortality rates of an entire community based on the Twitter posts of people living in that community – and this is more accurate that evaluating “smoking rates, the obesity rates, the demographics, the income, the education”.