10 TEN INSIGHTS FROM THE SEMESTER
1) An Instagram full of Lies
Instagram is full of many different influencers and sponsored accounts that show off lavish lifestyles full of travel and well lite photos. These accounts draw in thousands of followers due to their aesthetic appeal. These follower counts draw in many different sponsors wanting the accounts to post photos wearing or using their products to gain publicity and hopefully more buyers. I was always aware of sponsored content and how sponsors are drawn to these instagram influencers, but I was very surprised to learn through Rising Instagram stars are posting fake sponsored content that people can follow the “fake til you make it” mantra to get these kind of sponsors. Instagram accounts fake being sponsored in order to gain more attention, make themselves seem like they are an influencer so they gain more attention hopefully which will get them real sponsors reaching out to them. These fake sponsorships can pay off for the influencer and help them take off. It also can help companies because it actually can gain them publicity for free when accounts pretend like they are being sponsored to post content about them. There also however can be a downside to this. When accounts post fake sponsored content, if they are not really good at it, it can reflect poorly on the company. People could wonder why a company is paying someone to post poor quality or weird content. Also people may post fake sponsored content on accounts that a company would never want sponsoring their content. People with radical political views, controversial posts or other unwanted content could be posting fake sponsored post that could reflect badly on that company by association. So although in some cases it can be mutually beneficial for the poster and company, it also can be harmful as well. Now when we scroll through instagram we can all be a little more wary to whether what we are seeing posted is real sponsored content or just a bunch of lies being used to gain more publicity.
2) FIREHOSING, WASHING AWAY THE TRUTH ONE SPRAY AT A TIME
When thinking about propaganda, most people think about carefully thought out deception. We think about crafty ways of getting us to believe something to be true. What is not really thought of is how a flat out obvious lie can easily start to sound like the truth if we hear it often enough. A technique that employs this concept is the good old firehosing techniques. This is when the same lie is repeatedly said to us over and over again and we just start to believe it even though it's not true at all. We are being assaulted with the spray of this lie and it soaks us until we accept it. For example, in this video an example of this is Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine, a country they had said they were not going to invade. The soldiers were wearing their uniforms just without the Russian insignia. Putin however just kept saying no, those are not our troops. Even though it was a blatant lie he kept sticking with it so eventually people started to believe it. If the public is exposed to a lie that is so obvious they start to believe it must be true, because why else would the person keep saying it? We must take a closer look at what is right in front of us rather than just believe what is being said and fight the stream of lies trying to wash away the obvious truth.
3) THIS INFORMATION OR DISINFORMATION? WHERE'S THE CREDIBILITY?
For any twitter user, whether old or new, you notice there are a lot of accounts that report information and stories to its users. Do you ever wonder how these accounts get started, gain momentum and followers? Also do you ever wonder if you should believe this information or it is just a bunch of disinformation? Disinformation is when accounts post information that looks real, and people believe it to be real and it starts to spread. The game Bad News helps people to understand how disinformation spreads and how accounts that are not at all credible gain followers who share their content and help to create a sense of fake credibility for them. In this game the user gets to experience making an account where they spread disinformation and gain credibility in the eyes of the followers. They are able to gain different badges throughout the game depending on the action courses they take. These badges are conspiracy, emotion, discrediting, impersonation, trolling and polarization. Together these ingredients mix together into making accounts viral even tho they are spreading disinformation. Conspiracy gets attention to accounts because people like to buy into the crazy ideas and fuel the fire. Emotion strikes reactions and shares getting things more attention to posts and accounts. Discrediting comes in handy when fact checkers try to shut down the disinformation spreading and prove them wrong, when they try to discredit you, you discredit them right back and keep your credibility going strong. Impersonation is when accounts pretend to be someone or something they are no in order to gain more followers, credibility and go more viral. Trolling happens when bots are used to push out the disinformation gaining more and more attention and racking in the credibility and virality to a post. Lastly, polarization is when you take an extreme swing to one side of a controversy and it gains lots of support and also a lot of backlash, but views are views and to the viral ranks you go with your disinformation spreading to looking eyes everywhere.
4) THIS JUST IN! READ ALL ABOUT IT! ANOTHER ADVERTISEMENT!!
News. We get in the printed papers on our doorsteps, we get it on the tv and we get it most importantly online now-a-days. With the rise of online interaction, it is no surprise people are stopping there print news subscriptions tossed on the doorstep in the early hours of the morning and turnin to the tap of the tablet to get their morning scoop. But there is indeed a flaw in this. People want instant access to news, but they do not seem to want to pay for it. Everyone wants free access on the internet but how is the news industry suppose to make money if no one is buying the print or willing to pay for online subscriptions? Something's got to give somewhere. Now you probably all can think of exactly where they can get this flow of income, just as many other free sites do, advertisers. But do you know they are showing you advertisements in ways you aren't even realizing? It can come to us in the form of what is called Native Advertising. John Oliver talks about it here in this video on Last Week Tonight. Looks like news, read likes news but is sponsored by Orange is the New Black? That’s right the way the news is getting money to sponsor its online sites is not just the little side bar advertising here and there, but full on sponsored articles that seem like real pieces of journalism but are sponsored by something, putting the news out there to also get their name or information out there as well. So this just in everyone: “Breaking News about News” by Rachael Hindle (Sponsored by COM416).
5) OH WELL! GOING VIRAL AT ANOTHER EXPENSE
When scrolling through your Facebook and twitter feed these days, you might come across a lot of people promoting their blogs recently. It seems like everyone’s starting a blog these days so it is easy to pose the question: with so many blogs out there, how are people really getting the attention and moving up the journalistic food chain? Well it is not all fun and fair games, but dirty sneaky tactics that claw their ways up to the eyes of the masses. Ryan Holiday in Trust Me I’m Lying, he talks about blogger Irin Carmon. She wrote stories that she had fabricated because she knew they would gain attention quickly and spread like wildfire getting herself more and more publicity. She wrote for example that the Daily Show was sexist when it really employees over 40% females. Carmon claims she had asked for a statement from them during her research and they did not respond, but did she really go about it in the right way and give them the proper amount of time to respond? Probably not. She found an idea and ran with it to get her name out there at the expense of a well known program. Even though the program released statements refuting her claims, what are people really going to remember? They are going to remember the shocking headline on their newsfeed not the rebuttal days later. Bloggers will use sneaky tactics like this to get attention and further their careers even though it is at the expense of another.
6) FIRST AMENDMENT: FREEDOM OF BOTS
An amendment that we all view as very important and crucial to our daily lives is the first amendment. It protects our freedom of speech. We can say what we want and where we want. Have you ever thought however this protection could backfire and protect something we do not necessarily want to be protected. Although websites try to do their best with controlling spam it still happens and it is especially used for political motives. They want to protect their users but also not infringe on freedom of speech. They need to find a balance of regulation and freedom of speech. This video here touches on some of these points. Bots can be used to divide America during an election. Bots and trolls are not just coming from within our own country, but also from other countries such as Russia. They can spam us with disinformation and no one can stop them from doing it. It can cause people to be swayed politically and feel a certain way. That's right, someone not from this country trolling the internet can have an effect on our voters and our election outcome. It is very easy for them to take on multiple identities as well in order to do this. They can post memes, start hashtag trends and post propaganda on any site they please. We can be spammed with disinformation and social media sites have to protect freedom of speech so it stays. Do you feel protected now?
7) LOOK AT MY COMPLETELY UNBIASED, FAIR INFORMATIONAL ARTICLE!
Partisan Propaganda was a new term and concept to me through this semester of exposure. In the execution of what is considered to be propaganda, it may seem to be unbiased at face value, but it is really charged in a certain direction. You would be surprised how many different stations lean a certain direction and they present facts and stories in a way that leads you towards their side. We like to think news will be unbiased and fair but that is not usually the case. They instill paranoia in us stacking facts in their favor. They use networked propaganda in order to do this. They might repeatedly expose people to an idea, which may or may not be a fact, and the repeated exposure could cause the general public to start to believe it like in this clip compiling the claims a coup might be happening. This paranoid logic can be really effective in partisan propaganda. We need to be more selective about where we get our news from and what we believe. There are a lot of visuals out there that outline which side each news outlet tends to lean. This can help viewers thoughtfully pick where they are getting their news from and how some reporting should really be taken with a grain of salt.
8) BLENDING INTO THE MASSES AND BREEDING EXTREMISTS
We all know that propaganda has been a tactic used in fighting wars for decades. Also most are aware that it is hugely employed by terror and extremist groups in order to get more people to join their groups. If you are not really into looking up terrorist propaganda in your free time you might be surprised in the ways they are presenting themselves. In order to reach out to those in Europe and America they post videos in English and show even a British medical student. They are trying to appeal to more people to recruit them. They want westerners to feel that they can be part of the movement too and join them to fight. Their strides to recruit is concerning to analyst because they fear it might be working. Recruitment videos are not the only way these groups gain followers online. They also get people talking about their attacks online gaining themselves more and more attention. They also make well constructed image posts supporting their missions. The level of professionalism in the media posts they are presenting can attract the attention of more and more social media users. They are blending into our social media, not looking like just some thrown together disorganized group. They are gaining attention spreading their ideas and false information and breeding more extremist through their propaganda.
9) “NOW FOR OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION” PROPAGANDA
If you are like me, you probably really like going to see movies in theaters. The experience of seeing it on the big screen surrounded by the sound systems, being exposed to the propaganda. Wait what? You did not know that your feature presentation is also a work of propaganda in some cases? Did you grow up on Harry Potter and the Hunger Games? Me too, so I was very surprised when reading this article to learn that in ways it was propaganda. These films depicted strong lead roles who stepped up to fight in a time of injustice in their societies. As a kid I would have never thought how these films could inspire others to step up in fight for what they believe in as well. Also these movies depict propaganda internally within the storyline that can cause younger viewers to learn to be more critical of their government and not be so quick to believe all that they are seeing. Additionally in the film industry, another really popular series I am sure many of us have seen is the Avenger movies. The movies depict fiction superheros working with a completely fictional government in fiction situations. But, did you know the government agencies have a right to tell the writers to change characters, dialogues and scenes if they do not like the way the FICTIONAL government is being portrayed. It seems a little unnecessary if you ask me. So even our fictional government agencies are censored and controlled by the real ones. They want to keep a positive view of themselves and control perceptions even in works of fiction. If writers, producers and actors do not comply to the government's wishes, they will be shut out of records. So even in your fictional pieces of entertainment you still might be seeing propaganda. This was really surprising to me and I’m sure it will be to others as well.
PUBLIC ENEMY #1: PROPAGANDA….. WELL SOMETIMES
How negative propaganda must seem to you now. Disinformation all around, bots, trolls, and you must not feel safe anywhere from propaganda. But did you know propaganda can also be a good thing? Made completely for your own benefit and safety. Do you remember ever seeing something like this? Maybe in high school, middle school, or maybe just on your newsfeed one day. This piece of propaganda was made in interest of the public not AT&T. If you decided to text and drive the consequences would be 100% your fault not your phone providers, but they still inform you on the dangers anyway. They want their users to be safe and keep other bystanders safe as well. This is not required of them. This piece of propaganda was made in order to help keep the public safe and they help to get their message across by hitting home with the emotion. Multiple people share the stories of how they were affected by someone texting while driving or how they affected others. This propaganda moves people, makes them feel bad and causes them to never want to cause that pain they are showing displayed in the interviews in the film. So although propaganda can be harmful, wrong and manipulative, it can also be positive and helpful to people as well.
AT&T. (2013, August 07). Retrieved May 04, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BqFkRwdFZ0&feature=youtu.be
Computational Propaganda Worldwide. (2017, July 10). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/E6l5aUU63UY
Elder, Katherine A. (2018). Propaganda for Kids: Comparing IS-Produced Propaganda to Depictions of Propaganda in The Hunger Games and Harry Potter Film Series. International Journal of Communication (Online), 909.
Fox News' latest fringe theory: Robert Mueller is more dangerous than Vladimir Putin. (2018, August 15). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/iqVjvxMbgQI
Gusmanson.nl. (n.d.). Can you beat my score? Play the fake news game! Retrieved from https://getbadnews.com/#intro
Holiday, R. (2018). Trust me, Im lying: Confessions of a media manipulator. London: Profile Books.
ISIS recruiting Western youth with English-language video. (2014, June 21). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/jdgzCbrPqzQ
Lapowsky, N. T. (2018, December 17). How Russian Trolls Used Meme Warfare to Divide America. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/russia-ira-propaganda-senate-report/
LastWeekTonight. (2014, August 03). Native Advertising: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_F5GxCwizc
Lorenz, T. (2018, December 18). Rising Instagram Stars Are Posting Fake Sponsored Content. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/12/influencers-are-faking-brand-deals/578401/
Secker, T., & Secker, T. (2017, July 04). EXCLUSIVE: Documents expose how Hollywood promotes war on behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA. Retrieved from https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/exclusive-documents-expose-direct-us-military-intelligence-influence-on-1-800-movies-and-tv-shows-36433107c307
Why obvious lies make great propaganda. (2018, August 31). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/nknYtlOvaQ0