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Friday, February 16, 2018


How important are political posts on the Internet anyway?

Now that the horse has left the barn and everyone is all verklempt about Russian meddling in the election (and indictments have even just been issued against 13 Russians) along comes the New York Times with an article which finally makes clear that the importance of these things has been vastly overblown, thanks to a number of factors, including A) It's hard to change people's minds; B) Most people did not see the material in question anyway; C) The ones that did already had the strongest opinions and hence were the least likely to change them; and D) The material in question was a tiny percentage of the material available online.

But the article misstates the case by repeatedly talking about "fake news". Because, as another study in today's Washington Post shows, something they ludicrously (given what follows) refer to as "Russia's disinformation campaign" primarily consisted of promoting stories which appeared in "mainstream" sources, including the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. Real "fake news" stories (like the infamous "pizzagate" story) are given an importance far in excess of their actual existence.

Never forget that when the first report of "Russian meddling" appeared last January, more than half of it was devoted not to hacking of DNC emails, but to public broadcasts of the RT network, and the things that the intelligence agencies found nefarious and objectionable in them included such things as broadcasting a third-party debate, airing a documentary about Occupy Wall Street, and carrying anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. Never forget that when the government talks about Russian "propaganda", this is what they're talking about. Not "fake" news. Real news, but in many cases real news that CNN and the New York Times and Washington Post are doing their best to ignore.

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