According to Gizmodo, quoting former Facebook workers:
Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.
The “spiral of silence” is a well-researched phenomenon in which people suppress unpopular opinions to fit in and avoid social isolation. It has been looked at in the context of social media and the echo-chamber effect, in which we tailor our opinions to fit the online activity of our Facebook and Twitter friends.
Rather than increasing perspectives, social media naturally enforces a conformity in ideas, in order that people avoid feeling like outcasts. Consider this in terms of social media propaganda: if your news feed is filled with propaganda posters expressing group beliefs (even when factually or logically wrong), you will be less likely to express alternative beliefs (even when factually or logically correct). In this way, social media propaganda not only serves to further an organization’s agenda but acts to suppress dissent.
This concept is not new. When I was in elementary school, decades ago, a friend used to get a group of kids together and then go up to an unsuspecting kid and tell a “joke” that made no sense and was not funny. But all the kids who were “in” on the deal would break out laughing – as would the unsuspecting target who succumbed to instant peer group pressure. Social media is the same idea, but on a global scale.
This poster is designed to lead you to the conclusion someone died because Republicans fund wars rather than highway infrastructure.
But your conclusion, based on the provided evidence trail, is not just wrong but spectacularly wrong when you see the full set of evidence.
This poster was shared over 25,000 times within 24 hours of appearing on Facebook, making it one of the most effective propaganda posters I have seen.
This poster is elegant in its design, use of “anchoring” and logical fallacy – but the poster is a work of fiction and an outright lie. Yet it successfully engaged System 1’s quick and intuitive thinking to lead viewers into a false conclusion, and whose viewers then quickly shared it with their friends, encouraging their friends to reach the same false conclusion.
Read through to learn how false this poster is – yet why it worked as such a spectacular piece of social media propaganda.
TV news, especially, but print news too, relies on a concept of “emotional jolts per minute” to engage their viewer or reader.
An emotionally jolted viewer or reader is more likely to retain the story in their head.
An emotionally jolted person is more susceptible to advertising messages, which is good for the business.
The Washington Post ended their Internet meme fact checking column because they discovered that no one cares if the meme is false; as long as it agrees with their preexisting bias and ideology, it must be true!
TL;DR Summary: HOW IT WORKS: An Internet meme sounds plausible but it is not true at all. The best propaganda usually sounds plausible!
Method: Assertion (all untrue).
Goal: To encourage doubts about the Obamas. Since it does not call for a specific action by the viewer, this could be considered “pre-propaganda” preparing the target for later messaging and a call to action.
Scorecard: Widely distributed in right wing circles even though it is false.