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?

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!

Your social media posts must be curated

Source: Your social media activity could help, or harm you

If you do not have a social media presence, employers say they are concerned there is something odd – or perhaps you are disconnected from modern technology.

If you have a social media presence, then they check for your views and say they are concerned about “extreme views”, which is not well defined.

Probably best to just post cat photos and videos!

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

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.

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 “need for approval” to manipulate people on social media

Humans have a natural need for approval, and this is most evident on social media. People don’t spend hours on these social networks posting both personal and public status updates, pictures, videos, etc. for the heck of it. They do it for the attention! They want to appear happier, healthier, wealthier, funnier, smarter, etc. and for everyone to adore them for it. Which is why those of us who market on social media need to learn how to utilize it!

Source: There’s A Natural Need For Approval On Social Media, Here’s How to Utilize It For Your Strategy – Stay N Alive

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.