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.

We lose our ability to recognize “fake news” due to the volume of posts on social media

Basically, as we are flooded with more and more posts, our ability to discriminate between real and fake becomes blurred.

At relatively low flows of information, his algorithm predicted that a theoretical social media user was able to discriminate between genuine and fake news well, sharing mostly genuine news. However, as Oliveira and his coauthors tweaked the algorithm to reflect greater and greater flows of information—the equivalent of scrolling through an endless Twitter or Facebook feed—the theoretical user proved less and less capable of sorting quality information from bad information.

 

Oliveira found that, in general, popularity had a stronger effect on whether a person shared something than quality. At higher levels of information flow that effect became more pronounced, meaning people would theoretically spend less or no time assessing the information’s quality before deciding to share it. Soon, as they paid less and less attention to each piece of information, the people were sharing fake news at higher and higher rates.

 

At the highest rates modeled, the quality of a piece of information had zero effect on the popularity of that information. “We show that both information overload and limited attention contribute to a degradation in the system’s discriminative power,” Oliveira said via email.

How Fake News Breaks Your Brain

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.

Weaponizing Twitter and other social media for political propaganda

A GOP donor who once had ties to IBM is the man behind the millions of Twitter bots President Trump counts on as followers who could be employed to target voters with misleading or fake news on social media.

Using “bots” to target social media users with propaganda is presented in the story as a possibility. But its already a reality.

“You have arbitrary and ridiculous information spread very quickly, and now to targeted user more susceptible to believing it and spreading it, and we now know that it influences people. We saw it in the election, with Brexit,” he said.

and gosh, sounds like propaganda:

“uses secret psychological methods to pinpoint which messages are the most persuasive to individual online viewers”

Using Questionable Statistics to Drive Up Wedding Costs?

What is the claimed average cost of a wedding in the U.S.?

$35,329 in 2016, says “The Knot” (not including costs of a honeymoon trip). More on their press release.

This value is *widely* distributed in the media, on social media, and in online forums.

Other estimates come from Conde Nast Bridal Infobank and The Fairchild Bridal Group.

How can an average wedding cost $35,329 when 62% of American have less than $1,000 in their savings account and only 10-20% have more than $1,000 in savings? (Perhaps this is because they spent it all on weddings and are now complaining they have no money?)

In my state, about 1 in 4 children live in poverty. More than 1 in 4 citizens qualify for Medicaid, which has extremely low income levels for qualifying.

The only way these numbers can all be true is a small number of people spend a huge amount on weddings or a large number live in poverty because they spend a lot on elective luxuries like high end weddings. Or the wedding estimates are bogus.

Propaganda Benefit

This survey is likely designed to produce a high dollar figure for the purpose of “anchoring” brides and grooms into an expectation of how much they should spend: The wedding industry wants you to believe you must spend a small fortune on your “special day”.

By anchoring this value, this “grounds” brides (especially) into how much is appropriate. But this is propaganda designed to set your expectations as to how much you should spend! Once this value is in mind, one’s costs will soon grow to fit with in this “budget”!

Undoubtedly there will soon be a Federal program to provide loans and direct subsidies to needy couples!

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 news.google.com 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.

 

Should you make political posts on Facebook? No, you should not.

This is a MUST READ item – see the link below.

Should you share political posts?

The first question you should ask before sharing anything to social media, political posts in particular, is “Why?

“Why are you sharing this post? What do you hope to accomplish?”

 

We sometimes think that our Facebook shares are so brilliant, insightful, and righteous that people of opposing opinions can’t help but be swayed and won over by our argument.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Source: The Dangers of Being Too Political on Social Media

Truth is, no one cares what any of us think. Further, most political posts are virtue signalling (look at me! I agree with this!), change no one’s opinion, get others emotionally riled up, and may even make others angry and upset.

Most of us, presumably, do not voluntarily use social media to be made angry and upset each day, and to live an anxiety filled life.

As the linked article notes, there is a difference between sharing items without propagandizing the message, or sharing humor political items, or sharing thoughtful commentary pieces that make us think.  Versus telling others what to think with an arrogant attitude that “I’m right and your wrong” (see the linked article).

We can take charge by unfollowing and unfriending those who feel compelled to fill our news feed with angry political posts.

I recently unfriended or unfollowed about 15% of my social media contacts, including extended family, because of their near daily rants on a variety of political ideologies. It is their right to post what they want; it is also our right not to listen and to avoid the emotional toll that such daily rants have on us.

I and many others learned that social media caused us emotional harm. Rather than abandon social media, I chose to put myself in control and to turn off the spigot of daily rants (and widely shared fake news) – and use social media for those activities that add positive value to my life.

Social media and the Paris Climate Agreement

In the past couple of hours, my social media feeds have *exploded* with loudly expressed perspectives on the Paris Climate Agreement.

How many of those expressing a perspective have read the Agreement?

I am guessing that is a number approaching zero.

The agreement is short, as far as government documents go, and you can read it for yourself here.

What does the Paris Climate Agreement actually do?

Read the text for yourself. It is a voluntary set of guidelines, with no enforcement provisions, for self reporting the steps each country will take and what they think they will accomplish. Out of 196 countries, none would ever cheat or bias the information they provide, of course.

If all of the voluntary measures were undertaken, various modeling groups estimate it may reduce global average temperature by between 0 and 0.36 deg C by 2100, if the climate change hypothesis is correct and all other factors remain the same. The Agreement says the goal is to limit temperature rise to 2 deg C over what it was about 150 years ago (or perhaps 1.5 deg C) at a cost of about $10 Trillion in present value terms just for the financial transfer from developed nations to developing nations and not including costs of developing alternatives for developed nations.

Countries choose their own “baseline” for emissions (China chose its model projected emissions in 2030 as its baseline whereas the U.S. chose 2005) and then voluntary measure their progress towards their self selected targets.

Dr. James Hansen, “father of climate change” said

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises.

Update: From the science journal Nature (May 22, 2017):

Better out than in

 

Continued US membership in the Paris Agreement on climate would be symbolic and have no effect on US emissions. Instead, it would reveal the weaknesses of the agreement, prevent new opportunities from emerging, and gift greater leverage to a recalcitrant administration.

A lot of emotion will be vented on social media over an agreement that most have not read, do not understand, and which the “father of climate change” says is a worthless agreement and the science journal Nature says is “symbolic and have no effect on US emissions”.

From the above short summary we can see that there are both pros and cons of the Agreement.

Why such a strong emotional response on social media?

The answer is propaganda. Rather than examining the underlying documents, almost everyone is responding in terms of what they think they know, which they learned from propaganda messaging. Remember, propaganda is messaging targeted at a group for the purpose of getting others to adopt someone’s agenda. A wide variety of methods are used to persuade a group to adopt someone’s agenda (appeal to authority, get on the bandwagon, name calling, are a small sampling of the methods used here).

Many people have been “trained” to what they should “believe” or accept as truth. They now feel it is their responsibility to evangelize their “beliefs” to others, via social media.

But most are virtue signalling that they are “on the bandwagon” and do not realize the Paris Agreement appears to accomplish little positive. The point of the Agreement seems to be to enable a group to say we agree but to not actually agree to anything.

Local TV news makes extensive use of PR fake news videos

Local TV stations make extensive use of “video news releases” which are pre-packaged public relations (PR) created fake news stories.

All of the sampled TV stations “actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients’ messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged V”NR in its entirety”.

Source: Microsoft Word – Fake TV News — Widespread and Undisclosed.doc – fake_tv_news_–__widespread_and_undisclosed.pdf