Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Policy issues Politics and government Social Web

The greatest propaganda machine in history

Sacha Baron Cohen recently spoke about how social media services have become the “greatest propaganda machine in history”.

Much of the media’s focus, when reporting on his remarks, was on his attack on Facebook. While he certainly targeted Facebook, he also spoke about how Google, YouTube, and Twitter shape online discourse, and how they help spread lies, bigotry, and attacks on fact-based discussions.

Think about it.  Facebook, YouTube and Google, Twitter and others—they reach billions of people.  The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged—stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear.  It’s why YouTube recommended videos by the conspiracist Alex Jones billions of times.  It’s why fake news outperforms real news, because studies show that lies spread faster than truth.  And it’s no surprise that the greatest propaganda machine in history has spread the oldest conspiracy theory in history—the lie that Jews are somehow dangerous.  As one headline put it, “Just Think What Goebbels Could Have Done with Facebook.”

Sacha Baron Cohen

As much as we embrace free expression, we find it difficult to draw a line when liars and bigots abuse their right to free expression because doing that feels like hypocrisy.

Free expression isn’t unlimited, though. And pushing back against channels that help propagate misinformation, abuse, and false statements that impact substantial segments of the population is becoming more important.

At the very least, it’s worth watching Cohen’s talk, or reading his remarks:

We should also think carefully about how much trust we place in services that profit from the social chaos we see around us.

Featured image by Miguel Henriques
Categories
Events and Life Music Travel and places

Vicarious adventures with GoPro

Vicarious adventures with GoPro

One of my new favourite YouTube channels is the GoPro channel. It’s an awesome channel for vicarious adventures, and some great music I wasn’t aware of. One of my favourite videos is this promo of the GoPro HERO6:

The track in this video is A Moment Apart by Odesza, and it’s my morning work anthem today:

unsplash-logoCover image by Chris Osmond
Categories
Applications Coding Entertainment Semantic Web

A curious sequence of events with Google and its YouTube recommendations

Well spotted there, Google! 🔭

I noticed a curious sequence of events this morning. I responded to a tweet about Donald Trump’s latest tweet where he referred to his “great and unmatched wisdom” using the Twitter app on my Android phone –

I then turned to our Android TV box where we were watching YouTube videos in the YouTube app, and I saw a recommendation for this Late Late Show video about Trump’s tweets:

That’s some pretty snappy algorithmic matching there, Google! 🤔

unsplash-logoCover image by Scott Webb
Categories
Social Web Television

Countless channels and nothing worth watching

Despite the sheer amount of content available on services like YouTube, there are times when it feels like there’s absolutely nothing worth watching.

It must be some sort of algorithmic dead zone that occurs now and then. Like tonight.

It’s a good thing I have so much to read …

Categories
People Science and nature Television

Neil deGrasse Tyson and I’m thinking about the laptop bag

I became a Neil deGrasse Tyson fan when I watched the series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” which I loved. deGrasse Tyson has a really interesting YouTube channel called “StarTalk Radio” which I just subscribed to and which you may also want to watch if you are into astrophysics. Here is his introduction:

Small confession: as much as I was paying attention to what he was saying, I couldn’t help but notice his laptop bag in the background. I just kept thinking: “Hey, I have the same laptop bag!”.

Back to what I was writing about, you can also follow deGrasse Tyson on Twitter and Facebook:


Image credit: Hubble Sees a “Mess of Stars” from the NASA Goddard Space Center, licensed CC BY 2.0

Categories
Entertainment People

Dissatisfied with North Korean grief over Kim Jong-Il's death

The North Koreans don’t do grief in half measures:

Despite such a widespread (and somewhat overboard) expression of grief for one of the world’s last dictators and very possibly the cause of North Korea’s current economic state, one YouTube commentator wasn’t terribly satisfied with the show:

Dissatisfaction with North Korean grief

Oh well, you can’t please everybody.