Computational propaganda (aka, fake news)

fake news computational propaganda

Fake news isn’t just in the mainstream media. A Facebook friend just shared this image on social media. I responded with basically the below message.

This is an example of computational propaganda, AKA, fake news, which I just did a TechFirst podcast on. Not because it’s necessarily fake, mind you!

But because it’s designed to promote a certain set of feelings, beliefs, and potentially even prejudices, without actually saying so.

  1. It’s a black woman (not typical Republican demographic) being featured with a bit of an angry or disapproving image, and (on the face of it) a nonsensical proposition.
  2. There’s a background of an American flag, which reminds right-leaning voters of what really matters.
  3. It’s something that has a large element of truth — hence the humor — but also something that tends to undermine confidence in leaders, which suits the agenda of far right (and, frankly, far left) interests.
  4. It also undermines any confidence in organized health authorities and their recommendations for public safety (also suiting the agenda of some).
  5. Finally, it also appeals to those who believe in law and order, and that we’re not doing a good enough job there, like we used to. Again, something that a certain set of voters are likely to react to.

It’s not wrong, necessarily, because these are hard times and it’s not clear what the right course of action is. Also, what works in one state (Montana, for instance) probably doesn’t work in New York, due to differences in population density, types of work, existing models of transportation, and different levels of socialization.

So there’s going to be conflicting advice … because there’s conflicting realities in different areas.

Again, it’s funny. And has a component of truth to it.

But also, it’s designed to influence a certain worldview and appeal to a certain demographic. That can be relatively harmless, as long as you read the symbology and avoid being manipulated by it. But to unsuspecting and media-naive people, this can be extremely (and invisibly) dangerous as part of a larger social media push.

And it works.

I guess seeing they let criminals out of jail, have room now for people like your and me,😀 That is a Democrat for you.

– a comment on the post

You can see the comment for yourself. The unspoken, even subliminal message is: wow those ethnic female busybody Democrats are stupid and up to no good.

Get enough of these, and you get triggered just by starting to see the elements. Immerse yourself in them as someone who is of a certain political persuasion already, and you won’t notice the propaganda, just like a fish doesn’t notice the water it swims in.