Nobias

“Track media bias, credibility, authenticity, and politics in the press you read. Burst your filter bubble…

…Nobias was founded in 2017 with a mission to promoting responsible/inclusive technology to protect consumers from deceptive or misleading content on the internet. Along the way, we hope to help people understand the landscape of media bias and to give them the power over the algorithms that shape what they read and see online.”

No Bias

Persuasive Maps

“This is a collection of “persuasive” cartography: more than 800 maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information. The collection reflects a variety of persuasive tools , including allegorical, satirical and pictorial mapping; selective inclusion; unusual use of projections, color, graphics and text; and intentional deception. Maps in the collection address a wide range of messages: religious, political, military, commercial, moral and social.”

https://persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/

h/t Open Culture.

The Problem of Fox News

“Fox is America’s central clearinghouse for hateful conspiracism, including the violent delusions that animated Bowers and Sayoc. A rich cosmopolitan Jew is scheming to help dangerous foreigners invade and despoil the homeland. Barack Obama, Tom Steyer and Robert DeNiro are trying to destroy America for reasons known only to themselves. Blacks want to steal everything for which you’ve worked so hard.

The problem with Fox isn’t just what it puts on its airwaves, but the impact it has on others. It pressures the corporate media to give credibility to its lurid fairy tales. It provides oxygen to the even more paranoid fantasists to its right, turning individuals into stars and other outlets into sustainable projects. And amazingly, Fox has nonetheless managed to present itself as a normal news outlet, like a cuckoo’s egg in a dunnock nest, mimicking the form with radically different content.”

—Jon Schwarz, “Fox News Has Done More to Incite Domestic Political Violence Than Donald Trump.” The Intercept. October 30, 2018.

On a personal note, I was doing a bit of traveling in the southern United States and decided to eat at four fast food restaurants, Arby’s, Hardee’s, Taco Bell and McDonald’s. Three had Fox News playing in the dining area. Taco Bell didn’t have any TVs. The second time it happened, at Hardee’s, I asked the people working there if it could be turned off, and I was informed that Hardee’s management had dictated that Fox News need always be on.

Consider the fact that, on any given day, one third of the population eats out at a fast food restaurant, and it’s a disturbing trend that this propaganda is being mandated by management to be played even when customers explicitly ask for it to be turned off.

Which brings us to the money question: Whose interests does that serve? And why is this a consistent pattern across different chains in that area?

Network Distribution of Propaganda

Manufacturing Consent” identifies five filters of a propaganda model for controlling populations in modern society, i.e., concentration of media ownership, influence of advertising as a revenue model, the reliance on authoritative sources to define the narrative, flak as a means of limiting the range of discourse, and fear of “radical Islam”, “communists” or any other convenient boogeyman to leave people open to irrational appeals. This blog post on “Defense Against the Dark Arts: Networked Propaganda and Counter-Propaganda” discusses how these ideas are distributed in our modern media environment.

Russia, for instance, relies on having a dominant share of voice. If they consistently flood the media with distributed messaging, it leaves little room for any other ideas to enter into public discourse. China does the same, but they focus on changing the direction of discourse into more positive directions for the status quo. Both use the concentration of the media landscape, the funneling of cash into many different outlets, appeals to their own authority, paying for commentators to deliver flak in online forums and stoking fears of terrorism to exercise control over their populations.

Perhaps most interesting was his discussion on how individuals can use flak to get earned media coverage to promote fringe ideas:

“The key tactic of alternative or provocative figures is to leverage the size and platform of their “not-audience” (i.e. their haters in the mainstream) to attract attention and build an actual audience. Let’s say 9 out of 10 people who hear something Milo says will find it repulsive and juvenile. Because of that response rate, it’s going to be hard for someone like Milo to market himself through traditional channels. His potential audience is too spread out, and doesn’t have that much in common. He can’t advertise, he can’t find them one by one. It’s just not going to scale…But let’s say he can acquire massive amounts of negative publicity by pissing off people in the media? Well now all of a sudden someone is absorbing the cost of this inefficient form of marketing for him.”

And the takeaway:

“Attention is the currency of networked propaganda. Attention is the key. Be very careful who you give it to, and understand how your own emotions and incentives can be exploited.”