Tag Archives: social media

Social media killed the truth

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – attributed to Mark Twain.

Ironically, he never said this. But Jonathan Swift did write “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.”

A new study proves that lies (fake news) spread faster than truth. Robinson Meyer reports at The Atlantic, The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News:

It was hyperbole three centuries ago. But it is a factual description of social media, according to an ambitious and first-of-its-kind study published Thursday in Science.

The massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.

“It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”

The study has already prompted alarm from social scientists. “We must redesign our information ecosystem in the 21st century,” write a group of 16 political scientists and legal scholars in an essay also published Thursday in Science. They call for a new drive of interdisciplinary research “to reduce the spread of fake news and to address the underlying pathologies it has revealed.”

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First shoe to drop: Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russians and corporate entities associated with Putin’s troll farm

Remember all the times that Donald Trump dismissed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as a “Democratic hoax,” Every Russia story Trump said was a hoax by Democrats: A timeline (June 1, 2017), a claim frequently repeated by our Trump trolls and Putin’s troll farm in comments at this blog? This premise has been repudiated today.

On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team announced a “speaking” indictment of 13 Russians and corporate entities associated with Putin’s troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia for “Information warfare against the United States of America” in social media,
part of a larger interference operation known as “Project Lakhta” which began in 2013. Read the Internet Research Agency, LLC Indictment (.pdf).

This specific indictment does not address the Russian hacking of the DNC or John Podesta. This specific indictment also does not address any coordination or cooperation by the Trump Campaign with the Russian interference in the U.S. election, beyond unnamed local grassroots Trump campaign activists referenced in this indictment as “unwitting Americans.”

This specific indictment also does not call into question the role that America’s social media platforms, e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, etc., may have played in the Russian attack.

Today’s indictment was just the first shoe of several more shoes to drop in the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.

The Washington Post reports, Russian troll farm, 13 suspects indicted for interference in U.S. election:

The Justice Department’s special counsel announced the indictment Friday of a notorious Russian troll farm — charging 13 individuals with an audacious scheme to criminally interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, was named in the indictment as the hub of an ambitious effort to trick Americans into following Russian-fed propaganda that pushed U.S. voters toward then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and away from Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The indictment charges that some of the Russian suspects interacted with Americans associated with the Trump campaign, but those associates did not realize they were being manipulated.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein called the charges “a reminder that people are not always who they appear on the Internet. The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote social discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.”

[T]he 37-page indictment provides the most detailed description from the U.S. government of Russian interference in the election.

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Trump tweets are creating foreign policy crises

Another day, another foreign policy crisis created by our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief. Steve Benen explains, Trump makes Middle Eastern crisis worse with strange tweets:

When Donald Trump returned from his first overseas trip as president, he and his aides were quick to applaud themselves for a sojourn they described as a “historic” success. This was a trip for the ages, Trump World said. The stuff legends are made of. Ballads will someday be written to honor Trump’s nine-day journey.

If you asked the president and his aides why they were so impressed with themselves, they tended to point to Trump’s time in Saudi Arabia. Exactly two weeks ago today, a senior administration official, talking to reporters aboard Air Force One, declared with a straight face, “Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.”

Even at the time, the comments seemed almost delusional, but today, they’re even worse.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.20.20 AMh/t Salon

Yesterday, in an unexpected development, five Middle Eastern countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen – broke off ties with Qatar, hoping to isolate the country politically and economically. The countries said they were isolating Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

Wait, it is Saudi Arabia that is the sponsor of Wahabi fundamentalism, and was home to 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers, who had financial support from highly placed Saudis according to the “28 pages” on Saudi involvement in the 9/11 terrorist assault. What We Know About Saudi Arabia’s Role in 9/11. Oddly enough, Trump’s immigration ban doesn’t include the country most of the 9/11 hijackers came from. Qatar, on the other hand, hosts the largest US military base in Mideast.

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The social media ‘coordination’ thread of the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

CNN reports that the FBI’s criminal probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is increasingly touching on the multiple roles of senior White House adviser Jared Kushner on both the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team.

Points of focus that pertain to Kushner include the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation. FBI Russia investigation looking at Kushner role:

The FBI has collected data on computer bots, programs that perform repetitive functions like searches, allegedly linked to Russia that helped target and push negative information on Hillary Clinton and positive information on Donald Trump through Facebook and other social media, the officials say.

Federal investigators have been taking a closer look at the Trump campaign’s data analytics operation, which was supervised by Kushner, officials say, and are examining whether Russian operatives used people associated with the campaign — wittingly or unwittingly — to try to help Russia’s own data targeting.

We now know that this did, in fact, occur. GOP operative colluded with Guccifer 2.0 – Russian stolen info was used by the GOP.

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Google Is Killing Google Reader as of July 1: Now What?

Google-reader-is-deadby Pamela Powers Hannley

Corporate giants work in mysterious ways. A case in point is Google's decision to abruptly end its popular Google Reader service, which allows users to get "feeds" from their favorite blogs. 

Blog for Arizona has almost 900 followers. (Hey, thanks!) The problem is that more than half of these followers are using Google Reader to stay up-to-date with our musings.

What's a person to do? So, you know the theory that if you ask the universe a question, the answer will appear to you? Well, that's what happened today.

I Googled something completely unrelated to Google Reader's death and up popped the following post about transporting your Google Reader blogs to Feedly.

Digging a little deeper, I found several other stories about what to do post-Google Reader. The catch is: If you want to maintain your current list of blogs to follow and you want to transfer said list to another service, you have to do it before July 1, 2013! (Or you are SOL and you have to re-essemble your favorites list.)

Here's what The Verge says about Feedly…

Feedly appears to be the heir apparent to Google Reader’s throne, a modern take on RSS that blends some of the niceties of Flipboard (like a “magazine view”) with useful Reader features like keyboard shortcuts and tags. But its biggest advantage may be that it’s the only RSS application that also has excellent and free companion mobile apps. In a world without the ubiquitous Google Reader API, building your own mobile apps is the only way to make sure you can pick up where you left off — in this way, Feedly is the only real Google Reader alternative.

Connecting by Feedly and other links, after the jump.


From Sue's News

I'm sure most of you are aware that Google Reader will be a thing of the past on July 1st. For months I have been trying to figure out how to stay in touch with the blogs that matter most to me, and I have finally made a decision. Yesterday, I joined Feedly and was happy to find that all of my "followed" blogs from Google Reader transferred over at the click of a button. What's more, by choosing the "magazine" format, I have been able to approximate the look I am used to, and I think this will be a smooth transition for me.

Having said that, I am not pleased with this latest action taken by Google. I'm not sure why they keep pulling the plug on services loyal customers have enjoyed over the years, and their doing so continues to erode my trust in them. Still, I am going to push forward as best I can. Who knows? Eventually, Google may let Blogger go as well, at which time I will probably move to WordPress and get used to that, too. [P2H here: I switched two of my old Blogger blogs to Word Press, after I heard that Google ended the free web creation service.}

For now, the main thing is staying in touch with all of you, and Feedly will allow me to do that. Just wanted to spread the word in case others are worried about the same thing I was…the prospect of losing touch with blogs and bloggers I have grown to care about.

Our connections are worth preserving!


PS. You will need to make the change prior to July 1st or the data from Google Reader will be lost, leaving you to recreate the list of blogs you follow as best you can.

PPS. I just joined Bloglovin, too. It was easy to transfer my Google Reader stuff with just one click, though the site does a lot less than Feedly. However, it has a social component Feedly doesn't have. Over time, I will decide which one I prefer!

Whatever service you decide to use to compile blog news, we sincerely hope BfAZ's Google Reader fans continue to follow us.

Other links…

RSS isn't dead: the best Google Reader alternatives

4 reasons Google Reader’s death signals the rebirth of RSS

Google Reader is Dead — But There’s an Alternative Inside Facebook

9 Google Reader Alternatives Now That Google Reader Is Dead

The Google Graveyard

Futurist Watts Wacker on Corporate Goodness & Storytelling

Skyscrapers.20-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Has social media pushed us beyond the information age and into the age of goodness?

With the blurring of the lines between news and entertainment and the blurring of the definition of a "friend", futurist Watts Wacker told attendees of the Public Relations Society of America Western District Conference that we are creating a macro culture that will "replace the information age".

Wacker's presentation was a string of observations about "cultural transformation" in our evolving world.

In the global village that is social media, people and corporations can no longer differentiate themselves by what they do-– for example, sell cars, bake bread, play music– because so many others are performing those same services, and thanks to social media, we all know about them. In the information age, we relied on corporate media and advertising to tell us where to buy a car, what bread is best, and who is the greatest rock band ever. Now we get information from our "friends". According to Wacker, corporations, celebrities, and just plain folks have to differentiate themselves by who they are… as people (since corporations are people, my friend.) 

The Age of Goodness

This cultural transformation has brought us to "age of goodness" – corporate goodness– Wacker said, as he proceeded to use Whole Foods as an example.

Failing to mention Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's now infamous comments likening the Affordable Care Act to fascism, Wacker said that Whole Foods is trying to build a positive image by supporting local produce and sponsoring farmers' markets in their parking lots. (As an aside, he mentioned this exercise in corporate goodness increases Whole Foods' produce sales by 20% on the days they allow farmers' markets in their parking lots.)

But perception is the hardest thing to change, and many still view Mackey as a stingy capitalist who wants to pass the cost of healthcare on to customers or employees– rather than paying for the healthcare insurance (and taking the tax deduction). Mackey now says he regrets the Obamacare = fascism comment, but is it too little too late? In the past year, Whole Foods and other corporate giants– particularly Papa John's, Applebee's, and Denny's– faced customer backlash through social media, when they announced their opposition to expanding healthcare insurance to their employees.

"All problems in business are cultural," Wacker noted. This seems like a simple statement, but it is quite profound. Operating in the global village of social media, corporations can no longer hide how they treat their workers. Corporations should consider putting workers first, not customers, according to Wacker. Why? Because workers are story tellers. Workers can be a company's best or worst advertising.

We are the media

In what Wacker calls the neo-tribal world, we natives are talking with each other. News, gossip, images, and video are shared at the speed of light through social media where anyone can have 50-5000 "friends."

Look at how one hand-held video clandestinely shot by a bartender changed the 2012 presidential election. In fact, the headline on the ABC News story about the video says it all: The Lesson of Mitt Romney’s 47-Percent Video: Be Nice to the Wait Staff? Yes! Be nice to the wait staff and your employees because we're all talking and sharing.

In the neo-tribal world, corporations "can't push or pull products" through traditional media, according to Wacker. They must "build a tribe around their brand". This is where the fresh-faced, well-dressed PR people attending the PRSA conference come in. Now more than ever, armed with blogging and social media, they are being charged with telling the "good news" about corporations. Anyone who has been on Facebook since before they went public on the stock exchange knows how it has shifted from a personal focus to becoming more advertising oriented. (Will greed kill the Facebook Goose that laid the Golden Egg, just as greed has made watching commercial television so annoying?)

Building Self

According to Wacker, there are five influences in "building self": life stage (how old you are); enculturation (your culture and background); events you experience; whose opinion matters to you; and the media.

In the neo-tribal world of social media, whose opinion matters and the definition of media have changed dramatically. People growing up in the "information age" (AKA the age of television and corporate media) trusted wise talking heads like Walter Cronkite to tell them the truth; his opinion mattered.

In today's world, people– particularly younger people– want and listen to a variety of opinions before they make a decision. Back in the Dark Ages, before the Internet, people bought Fords, Budweiser, and Wonder Bread because their parents did. How did their parents make purchasing decisions? Advertising. How many of you have asked your Facebook friends' opinions before making a purchase– rather than looking in the Yellow Pages or looking at newspaper ads? How many of you have looked at online reviews before buying a product or trying a new restaurant?

Media has flipped from being corporate to being personal, since the Cronkite era. Posting on Facebook, commenting on Amazon, uploading cell phone videos to YouTube– we are all content creators. We are all media. We are all pop culture.

Wacker observed, we can build an audience around ourselves (or our corporate clients/employers) and can build ourselves as brands. Arizona has several examples of bloggers who have built themselves up– built their brands– as media pundits. In the Cronkite era, these folks (including me) would have been just retired teachers, lawyers with spare time, ABD community college math profs, or opinionated politicos. Social media and blogging have elevated opinionated people who can sting together a few coherent sentences to the level of "media". The dearth of newspaper "news" has accelerated this process and made blogs more important news sources.

According to Wacker, editing is no longer taking out what is not necessary, it is about bringing what is interesting to the tribe.

"When we see change is coming, we try to deny it," Wacker told the nearly 100% female audience of PR professionals, corporate communications specialists, writers, and editors. But the future is upon us, and we must seize the moment and ride the wave.

"I am pop culture" 

What drives pop culture? According to Wacker, there are classic stories that build pop culture and create "news":

  • Lightning in a bottle: things you can't plan or predict (eg, the World Trade Center bombing, the 47% video, the Boston Marathon bombing and the indredible saga that followed);
  • Breaking the membrane: people suddenly become know because of some event or discovery (eg, the Boston Marathon bombers or Louis Taylor);
  • Fall and redemption: the rise and fall of famous people (eg, Bill Clinton, Tom Cruise, John Edwards, the list goes on);
  • Archetypes and icons: archetypes hold up standards; icons hold the standard during a period of time (eg, Jesus, Pope Francis);
  • Edge surfers: the fastest, strongest, best (eg, the Red Bull space man);
  • Anniversary dates: look how many stories are built around anniversary dates (eg, the beginning of the Iraq War, 9/11, the end of WWII).

Encouraging the audience members to become good storytellers, Wacker also offered multiple themes that run through these classic stories: love and care for others, good and evil, truth, transformation (rags to riches), faith and justice, voyage and return, exerting control, beauty and awe, moral redemption, fall of the self, mistaken identity, joy, independence, revenge, courage and overcoming adversity (or the monster). 

According to Wacker, these classic stories "touch people in places they don't have words for" because they can relate to them. (Think back to the Whole Foods example. Is Mackey's apology for dissing Obamacare a story of fall and redemption? Of course it is.)

In the brave new world of social media, we are the story tellers, the story sellers, and story storers. We must use our power wisely.