Move to ban anonymous online comments

Los Angeles Times:

That’s why I’m increasingly thinking that our best solution to keeping trolls at bay may be a requirement by social-media sites that all members use their real names when posting comments.

Source: To thwart the trolls, social-media sites should require users’ real names – LA Times

The reporter further states that all social media users should be required to provide a credit card account in order to sign up, to insure that real names are used. Note that comments on social media – and media online forums too – are a form of propaganda. In some cases, the comments being posted are part of a coordinated propaganda campaign. Propaganda does not merely emanate from those who own the printing presses and broadcast licenses – propaganda can be produced and distributed by everyone today using social media and online comments too.

Snopes rips the media for fake news stories

An in-depth analysis of the false allegations and misleading claims made against the 45th President since his inauguration.

Source: The Lies of Donald Trump’s Critics, and How They Shape His Many Personas

Read it, please.

I am not a fan of President Trump, did not support him and I am not involved with either the Democrat or Republican parties. I have watched with disbelief, however, as the full power of propaganda messaging has been brought to play by “professional journalists”. There are many, many, many negative things that can be reported accurately and get the point across – but as Snopes documents, reporters have crossed a line into fantasy writing, as if it is their intent to interfere with democracy itself. I have not previously written about this specific topic – propaganda versus Trump – because the topic is overwhelming in scope.

Thankfully, Snopes does an excellent job addressing the absurd levels to which propaganda messaging has become the default position and concludes:

It has to be acknowledged that since January, many of Trump’s opponents, and even lukewarm supporters, have found considerable fault with his policies and behavior, based on accurate facts. There have been many occasions when Trump himself, undistorted and unfiltered, contributed mightily to the four personas we have outlined.

….

[but regarding poorly produced news stories] these sorts of massive exaggerations and gross distortions are even more corrosive and destructive than fake news about diarrhea on the golf course, because they bear some distant relationship with the truth.

Which is precisely how the best propaganda operates – it has at least some link to truth, but bends and distorts that truth to motivate the target to adopt and agenda or take action.

Years ago, I observed the use and power of propaganda to persuade others to adopt someone’s agenda. That led to much study on the subject and to the creation of this blog and Facebook page.

Politics is a minefield of propaganda messaging not only from politicians but also from their fanatical devotees on social media plus their friends in the mainstream media whose bad reporting is shared on social media as confirmation of allegations.

In the linked post, Snopes eviscerates the credibility of professional media (and some of the professional fake news web sites, especially those on social media) due to the media’s having morphed into a full time propaganda operation. In the future (which could be next week), when the Media screams “Wolf!”, few people will believe them anymore.

Remember, there are many, many issues regarding Trump that can be reported accurately and are quite negative for Trump or his policies. There is plenty to bash by just sticking to facts and policies. But the media, as Snopes documents, has become a giant propaganda messaging operation. Discerning truth from such overwhelming propaganda firepower is difficult.

We worry about allegations of foreign nations interfering in our elections but ignore media actually doing so through lies, distortions and inaccurate reporting.

Social media fake propaganda poster

This is a photograph of an animal crossing bridge in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. This bridge has nothing to do with the Netherlands.

The photo was stolen from Joel Sartore, a professional photographer for the National Geographic Society, Geo, Smithsonian and others, and the photo is featured on his own page: https://www.joelsartore.com/keyword/greatest-hit/page/3/

Why do people create these garbage posters? And why do people share them? Why do people then add supportive comments to these posts?

And why are people so stupid as to think the Netherlands looks like this mountainous terrain?

Recent positive national news stories about Reno, Nevada were planted by a PR agency

I’d read several of the recent national press stories about Reno, Nevada, all of which acted as cheerleaders for the area. Turns out, and not surprisingly, these stories were planted by a public relations agency:

The national news stories began popping up about two years ago, celebrating Reno’s economic revival, touting the city as “actually pretty cool” and ruminating on the region’s Silicon Valley-esque potential.

Just two weeks ago, a Bloomberg story titled “Reno Is Starting to Look More Like Silicon Valley” hit social media with great fanfare, continuing the trend of celebratory Reno articles appearing nationally about twice a quarter since 2015.

But the positive press isn’t a coincidental timing of national publications suddenly realizing Reno is shedding its image as a tired casino town.

In fact, the coverage has been carefully orchestrated at local taxpayers’ expense to help rebrand the region in an effort to boost economic development — a cost to date of $110,000.

Source: Reno’s looking like Silicon Valley? You helped pay for that headline

Glad to see Reno’s local paper doing real journalism and exposing the charade. “Public Relations” is the term Edward Bernays invented to be used in place of “propaganda”. War time propaganda efforts, especially by Goebbels in World War II, gave the original term “propaganda” a bad taste.

14 year old electrocuted by cell phone? Amazon’s Alexa calls 9-1-1?

Something is missing from this story (and other versions of it that are all over the media) – a 14 year old taking a bath, reached for her cell phone that was connected to a charger, and this caused her death by electrocution.

A cell phone charger outputs 5 volts, typically at less than 1.0 amps (newer chargers may go up to 2.0 amps). This low voltage and power level is not going to kill anyone, in a bath tub or not.

If this is a true story (and we have no way of knowing that) it is likely she attempted to plug the charger in to a wall outlet and made contact with 110 volt AC power, which is often lethal. (Update: Newer reports note this involved a charger plugged into an AC electrical extension cord.) The cell phone part of the story creates the novelty that translates into clicks, eyeballs for advertisers, and social media sharing.

Texas teen electrocuted after cell phone incident in bathtub

A search on Facebook shows untrue claims such as “Remember your phone is an electrical device that will electrocute you when plugged in and near water.”

At this point, a lot of people are going to believe that you can be electrocuted by your cell phone, which is nonsense.

Similarly, a widely spread news report claimed Amazon’s Alexa called 911 during a domestic violence situation. Amazon says this is impossible.

Taken together, consider how these two relatively unimportant stories are translated into popular lore. Many people will vaguely remember these stories, which then become “facts”, even though neither is true. Most of what we think we know comes from the media and social media (and perhaps personal conversations). Unfortunately, most of the items promoted by media and social media are designed to hook our emotions and shut down our brains. News reporters intentionally use methods defined for propaganda to generate clicks to their stories – and you won’t believe what happened next!

Newsweek’s fake news report about the Montana earthquake

Natural Disaster: 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Montana, Raising Supervolcano Concerns

Yellowstone National Park, which covers parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, lies on top of a supervolcano that could effectively wipe out the United States if it were to explode. The last time it did, 640,000 years ago, it expelled 240 cubic miles (think about that) of rocky debris into the sky.

Early Thursday morning, residents of southern Montana feared the worst when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the region. Though its epicenter was only 230 miles from Yellowstone, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) says the seismic activity was not irregular, and the supervolcano is not expected to erupt anytime soon.

Newsweek

This fake news report uses exaggeration and hype to target the emotions of readers – an exaggerated headline and first paragraph which is then negated by the last sentence of the second paragraph! This quake has nothing to do with a past or present super volcano!

The goal is to hook your emotions – especially fear about a supervolcano wiping out the United States.

This “news report” meets the very definition of fake news – a false or exaggerated statement designed to appeal to the emotions, for the purpose of selling eyeballs to advertisers. The above example is not funny – its insulting and rude to readers.

Update: I checked with my personal consulting geologist who actually lives in Montana and she said there’s a separate tectonic zone near the epicenter of the quake which is probably the cause of this one. There’s a lot of old faults in the region that occasionally rupture.…it wasn’t even a disaster

The news media has demonstrated this week it is incapable of learning anything. It’s all fake news.

Update: The Missoula newspaper explains this in more detail. Newsweek’s fictional story isn’t even close.

Much social media “influencers” content is ghost written and fictional

Everything is fake on social media:

Ghostwriting for social media stars is the secret new Millennial It-career.

Source: Which Internet Influencers Use Ghostwriters? – Ghostwriting Secrets of Internet Influencers

Read the whole thing – including the biography of a teen Instagram star written by an author had to create a nearly entirely fictional account of the background of this teen social media “star”.

Did social media propaganda play a role in shooting?

This blog has extensively documented the use of propaganda methods to deliver propaganda messaging on social media web services such as Facebook.

A 66 year old attempted to assassinate members of Congress. According to media reports, he belongs to a number of propaganda-based social media groups:

Hodgkinson is a member of a number of anti-Republican groups on Facebook, including one called

▪“Terminate the Republican Party.”

▪ “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans”

▪ “Donald Trump is not my President”

▪ “President Bernie Sanders”

▪ “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump”

▪ “Boycott the Republican Party”

▪ “Expose Republican Fraud”

▪ “Terminate the Republican Party”

Source: Rep Steve Scalise shot in congressional baseball game | Belleville News-Democrat

More here.

As this blog has noted, social media has created – for many – a culture of perpetual outrage. Fake news and social media agitation groups – both left and right – are widespread on social media. Many who view themselves as intelligent and understanding belong to these types of social groups on Facebook. When you visit these agitation groups, you may be surprised to find FB lets you know which of your “friends” are members of the group (FB does this to encourage you to join the group).

Such groups are properly termed “hate groups”. Go through the above list and change the name “Republican” or “Trump” to the name of an ethnic group or the name of a religion to understand this.

Facebook is filled with groups like the above – on both the left and the right. Facebook has become a friction-less platform for the spread of propaganda against many. This propaganda keeps the emotions of its targets in a constant state of perpetual outrage.

Social media CEOs will tell us that propaganda on their platforms has little impact while simultaneously basing their business model on advertising (which is a form of propaganda). Simultaneously, they vow to shut down propaganda by ISIS and neo-Nazi groups that are said to cause “radicalization”. Social media CEOs and other publishers have argued themselves into a dead end (no pun intended) and want us to believe social media has no impact, but please buy advertising on our social media because we have an impact!

NBC News reports “The inquiry is raising questions about a possible political motivation” and “A motive remained unclear“. The lengthy NBC news fails to mention anything about the shooter’s background. The suspect wrote to a newspaper that a news personality owned by NBC is his is favorite TV show.

Update: Social media, is no surprise, filled with more hate speech in response to the shooting.

Media priorities driven by conflict and ratings (“clicks”)

In media, propaganda and advertising it’s all about “emotional jolts per minute”. The media provides “celebrity-like” coverage of political personalities but seldom does serious policy reporting. This problem is pervasive in political coverage but even rears up in coverage of health, science, business and technology.

Personalities, and especially those that generate “emotional jolts per minute”, are the focus of reporting – not serious analysis or policy understanding.

●Do news sites give serious, sustained attention to policy issues as well as publishing innumerable hot takes about the personality-driven dust-up of the moment?

Harvard professor Thomas E. Patterson, the study’s author, sees trouble on that last point.

The press is focusing on personality not substance,” he said recently on public radio’s “On the Media” program. And that reflects “not a partisan bias but a journalistic bias,” the tendency to seek out conflict. (No mystery there — it’s more interesting.)

“It’s the press in its usual mode, and that erodes public trust,” Patterson said.

And then there’s the dirty little secret that every journalist knows — Trump stories drive ratings and clicks. The word “Trump” in a headline vastly increases its chances of getting attention. (We’re all guilty; see above.)

WashingtonPost: Is Media coverage of Trump to negative?

Since so much of “news” is personality-driven trivia of “he said, she said” and faux outrage quotable quotes, we seldom develop an understanding of the policy or root subject.

Worse, many believe they have knowledge of a subject because it was reported by a well known media outlet. In reality, most of what we think we know – from the media – is likely superficial at best or incomplete and wrong at worst.

Within this celebrity gossip reporting milieu propaganda messaging and spin thrive.