Tag Archive | The Guardian

Facebook as Psy Op?

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This is not a horse

If you love Facebook and use it a lot, you might want to check out the following articles from The Guardian.

You will definitely want to read the May 7 article Carole Cadwalladr, entitled The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked. It’s as much about the US as it is about the UK because the two are very much linked.

Infographic on how the Brexit campaigns were linked

You can follow that up with Facebook employs ex-political aides to help campaigns target voters. This was published Monday, May 8, by Robert Booth. It’s pretty clear Facebook is a huge political problem and super creepy as an organization.

If you read these articles and think, “What can I do beside leave Facebook?” check out Who Targets Me?  Some spunky Brits have developed an extension people can install on their chrome browser to find out who is using Facebook to basically stalk you and launch an targeted psy-op / advertising campaign designed to persuade you to vote (or note vote) for a candidate or issue.

I’m not suggesting anyone has to cut Facebook, or any other social media, out of their life, but everyone should be aware of who is trying to manipulate them, how, and why.

Consider the case of Sinclair Broadcast Group which is set to acquire Tribune Media. Under a normal administration, with a normal FCC head, this merger would never happen. The FCC rules forbid it. No one group is allowed to be in more than 39% of markets.

But under Trump’s FCC guy, who has decided to pretend a station is not a station, the merger can happen. And the reach of that one group will now be 72% of markets. If you’re saying to yourself, that’s unsettling, you’re right.

SBG will be taking over local news stations. TV news is where 60 percent of adults get their news, and of those, almost 50 percent rely on local stations, according to Pew Research. So why would SBG want to control a lot of local news stations? To feed those people all the same news.

What kind of news? Turn out, SBG is super conservative and actively uses its stations to promote that outlook while actively denigrating other viewpoints. They love Trump. It’s not going to provide local news or balanced coverage of issues; it’s just pure propaganda.

Basically SBG supported Trump, so Trump now supports this illegal merger to acquire stations, to build out a conservative propaganda platform, to support Trump. Nice circularity to it. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal simply based on the quid pro quo, but Jeff Sessions is hardly going to say anything.

If you’re thinking you should look at the SBG stations and Tribune Media stations and delete them from your viewing line up. Yeah, you probably should if you want local news that’s actually local news.

Much like Facebook, certain media providers are no longer the thinking person’s friend. With the end of internet privacy laws, that’s likely to be true of more companies, such as Google and Twitter and basically anyone you give your data.

Hopefully more people will start looking in media gift horses in the mouth. Seems like the Europeans have begun to push back against radical populist nationalism.  I suspect British people will find a way to avoid Brexit, despite article 50 having been triggered.

I’m actually surprised Trump is still president, but I expect eventually he’ll be caught in a snare of his own making.  It will be interesting the number of people that go down with him though, and who will be charged to clean up the mess.

Now that sounds painful!

Remember The  Guardian, the now award-winning UK newspaper that broke the NSA scandal and left Edward Snowden perpetually trapped in an airport terminal?

Well, they’re only human.  They make mistakes too, as this recent posting to their web-version’s front page proved.


At first I thought it was a health-related story. A new drug trial gone horribly wrong. So I skimmed the brief descriptor — hail, Ed Balls, getting harder, for everyone?

Uh, say whaaat? Was this a Brit version of the Weiner scandal? I clicked the article immediately.

The actual article was titled Growth boost puts Labour on back foot.  It was just the usual story about disparity in the economic recovery. How disappointing.

Still, in these days of “not much money, O but Honey,” a weekday laugh is worth its weight in gold (ok, maybe sterling).

There be dragons


This is Mount Snowdon. It’s in Wales, which is known for its dragons.  The last  dragon sighted in Wales was in the 1800s. Still, if you choose to go to Wales, you understand you may be set upon by dragons. Personally,  I travel to Wales frequently despite the dragons because I like Wales.

The cyberworld is a bit like Wales. There the copious sharing of personal information is normal because the majority of people there believe all data should be available and free — regardless of copyrights or laws or whatever. There is also an understanding that when traveling in that land one’s data might be taken (without consent) and shared (in violation of any and all laws).

That anyone, especially in the tech-savvy US, is shocked by Edward Snowden’s “revelations” or appalled by the NSA’s behavior is just silly. It presumes an expectation of legally enforced privacy in a world where everyone knows privacy and law enforcement don’t exist. Still, I suppose, for those few who were clueless, this is your wake up call: There be dragons.

For the record, I believe Snowden to be an idiot. But the real blame here is on the NSA — for hiring him.