The remarkable power of propaganda

I just scanned Twitter for items about the Affordable Care Act.

I estimate 99% of the Tweets were lies, contained significant errors, left out key information, or significantly exaggerated points. This included linked news stories at main stream news services such as the Los Angeles Times and NPR and others, which contained significant inaccuracies or left out crucial information and data that refuted the thrust of the article.

How many read the ACA? Probably a number approaching zero.

How many researched any of the topics at all? Probably a very small number.

So why are these people posting so much nonsense on Twitter?

Because of the effectiveness of propaganda that has delivered messages to them, which they in turn, regurgitate online, further spreading the propaganda message.

I covered this previously in National public opinion surveys are propaganda messaging in disguise.

Unfortunately, most national surveys of “American’s opinions” are surveys of propaganda effectiveness. The survey itself then adds to the growing body of propaganda messaging on a subject and becomes, itself, a form of propaganda.

You can go to and find similar surveys.

  • 9% of American’s Feel Shingles Vaccination is a Priority
  • Many believe race relations will worsen under Trump
  • 68% of Americans believe humans are causing warming
  • 71% of Americans consider granola bars to be healthy

Surveys often follow a period of concerted propaganda messaging in the media.

In these and other cases, the survey is primarily measuring the effectiveness of the propaganda messaging around a subject. Most American’s understand little of the facts or logic for any of these items (and many more). Survey respondents are regurgitating the view given to them by propaganda messaging and the methods used to persuade masses of people.


Visa applicants to US must turn over all social media account IDs for past 5 years

The US government announced today that applicants requiring a visa to enter the U.S. must turn over

  • All social media account IDs used during the past 5 years, even if since deleted.
  • All names, phone numbers and email address of yourself, your siblings (including adult siblings!) and children used during the past 5 years.
  • Detailed 15 year biography, including identifying each country you may have visited, when you visited, and how your trip was funded.
  • Failure to provide accurate information is grounds for visa denial.

Most people can’t remember the information that is being requested. Further, that the U.S. is requesting account data going back 5 years, even for deleted accounts, means that the U.S. government admits it has used surveillance to log all phone calls, emails and social media posts of everyone, world wide, for the past 5 years.

A likely consequence of this is that other countries will now require that U.S. citizens provide similar information when applying for a visa to visit those countries.

What does this mean for social media?

A great many people, particularly young people, may have no idea what they posted – or more importantly – who they have friended on social media over the years.

For example, because of my personal interest in 3D photography, I have social media friends in Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and many countries who share an enthusiasm for 3D photography. Because some of the countries are considered “evil” by the U.S. government, do I need to prune my friend list?

Over the past few months, I deleted all of my Tweets going back years so that I only now publicly display the last 90 days of tweets – anything older is auto-deleted. I deleted my Instagram and SnapChat accounts. I went through all of my Facebook posts and deleted nearly all posts, likes and shares, more than a few months old.

I am not trying to hide anything. The problem is that people with wild imaginations can conjure up conspiracy theories based on one’s friends, the topics that interest us online and more.

What impact will these government measures have on social media? I would predict that there will gradually be fewer posts, better use of “privacy” settings, and pruning of friend lists. In effect, a lot of people will start engaging in self censorship, including U.S. citizens – because we have no idea what the rules are for evaluating our friend lists or how our posts will be interpreted and evaluated.

The 1st, 4th and 5th amendments to the U.S. Constitution have largely been suspended.

News and social media “filters” reinforce established beliefs

Facebook, Google News and other online services automatically try to filter the information you see, to deliver to you what their algorithms think you want to see. Usually, this means delivering items to you similar to those you’ve already looked at before. The effect seems to strengthen bias, rather than challenge them. A simplified study was done to test this idea in practice and it (so far) confirms that our online world may be leading to less diversity in ideas, rather than more:

filtering of either sort led people to click and spend more time on “pro-attitudinal” articles — that is, articles most likely to reflect their own opinions right back at them. In a way, the bottom-right graph is the most interesting. It shows that people in the control group spent more than half their time on the site reading articles that challenged their beliefs. That number plummeted precipitously in the other conditions.

Original source


Twitter launches tweet censorship program

Today, some tweets appearing on Twitter are accompanied by the following warning:

I did a search on Twitter for #DrudgeReport and found several (but not all) tweets mentioning #DrudgeReport had this warning. Drudge Report is a right leaning news aggregator that specializes, typically, in using inflammatory headlines to hook readers.

A search for #DrudgeReport using the “Latest” option presents this:

That is weird – it appears Twitter is fully censoring searches for items related to Drudge Report.

A search for #InfoWars for tweets related to the InfoWars conspiracy theorist displays tweets, without warnings.

A search for proven fake news service #OccupyDemocrats displays a long list of tweets, without warnings.

The algorithm used by Twitter is not clear to the user –  all we can tell at this point is that Twitter has censored Drudge Report.

Twitter, of course, like Facebook, is an unreliable source for any sort of information. Yet Twitter does not display a warning on itself, nor does it display a warning regarding links to Facebook.

Social media, as this blog has extensively documented, is a frictionless platform for the spread of propaganda. This blog, at times, intentionally searches for propaganda on social media to better understand how it works. By establishing a censorship program, Twitter blocks research into the use of their platform for propaganda messaging. Twitter is therefore no longer an information conduit but a publisher that uses censorship to control messaging.  In the blink of an eye, Twitter is itself an official propaganda publisher.

Rather than allow users to think for themselves, Twitter now does the thinking for you and is choosing what you are readily able to see or not see. Do you want to outsource your thinking to an unreliable social media propaganda platform?

Paid propagandists control social media discourse

Attkisson: When people get online every day and take part in social media or do searches for news, what is it you think they don’t know?

Matthew Brown: I don’t think they know they’re being manipulated.

Matthew Brown is a data analyst who pierces the secrecy behind paid efforts to influence online.

Attkisson: What areas of the Internet are used to shape and manipulate opinion?

Matthew Brown: Everywhere social. Everywhere social means specific Facebook pages, but it also means the comment sections in every major newspaper.

Brown began investigating after his health insurance costs tripled and he commented about it on the Obamacare Facebook page. He got bombarded, he says, by digital activists disguised as ordinary people.

Brown: Digital activists are paid employees; their purpose is to attack anyone who’s posting something contrary to the view the page owner wants expressed.

Brown decided to use analysis software to crunch the numbers. He evaluated 226,000 pro-Obamacare posts made by 40,000 Facebook profiles. What he found was remarkable.

Brown: 60 percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time.

Attkisson: Which means what?

Matthew Brown: They were paid to post.

Source: Sum of Knowledge Part 1

NY Times reports women’s FB page suspended after quoting the Bible

She apparently responded to a comment on her page by directly quoting the Bible – six months ago. Six months later, Facebook suspended her account for a week.

Source: (NY Times) Facebook accused of ‘liberal bias’ after suspending account of Christian blogger who cited the Bible on homosexuality

Facebook does not usually tell someone the specific reason their account has been suspended – only says the user has violated their community standards.

Did someone post a comment on my web site or Facebook page six months ago that led to the shadow ban on the Occupy Propaganda page? I have no idea. However, that Facebook censors discussion of the impact and methods of propaganda via social media is frightening, and as they say, the optics look awful for Facebook.

German official labels social media a “value chain of digital propaganda”

“…one German official has proposed fining Facebook 500,000 euros ($528,700) for failing to delete fake news stories and hate messages within 24 hours, describing the social media giant as a “value chain of digital propaganda.” “

Source: Germany’s plan to fight fake news

That sounds like another way of saying that social media is a friction-less platform for the spread of propaganda.

However, a government run Ministry of Truth, as proposed by the German government, sounds like a bad idea.

It is unfortunate that media stories continue to focus on Russia rather than the broader issue of the social media platform being used by governments, for-profit lobbyists/online publishers, government agencies, non-profits, the media, and individuals and small businesses – for the dissemination of propaganda.