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Our goal is to inject facts into debates that are too often dominated by opinion and feelings. These natural human traits get in the way of ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

PREPARING FOR THE ESCALATING CYBER WAR PART 2: MEMES

SURPRISE, MOST MEMS AREN'T FOR INFORMATION! Some are clearly for pure and simple entertainment. For a large portion of the MEME traffic that makes its way to you, there is purpose in how it gets to you. When you get a propaganda meme either as a pop-up or in your feed, it is no accident. YOU ARE THE TARGET, and the MEME is a cyber weapon. There IS a hot war going on in cyberspace with attacks and counter attacks.

Don't be fooled, or lulled into a false sense of security because the battlefield in this war is in cyberspace. It spills out of the computer world and into the physical. Air travel can be delayed when vital information systems are attacked and systems shut down. The most troubling spillover of this cyberwar is you. As mentioned earlier YOU are a target, most specifically your feelings. Also worth mentioning for our American readers, The 2016 election interference attacks were launched BY RUSSIA. RUSSIA, Repeat RUSSIA AND V. PUTIN DID IT. This is worth mention here because of the propaganda campaign ongoing from THE GOP. Trump's "win" and his presidency are good examples of the effects of war in cyberspace extending to the physical world.

In a cyberwar, a meme can be a weapon. A weaponized meme is a propaganda poster or leaflet delivered directly to you and as mentioned it is targeted. A lot of content, on Facebook, in particular, is fed to you based on what are looking at so ads and promotions match your interests. It could be candy, movies, golf or even White Nationalism. So now the attackers know where to find you and how to feed propaganda directly to you and the algorithms know what presses your buttons, and its bombs away in the cyberwar.

Let's look at the parts of a propaganda meme, as I understand them.

It is extremely easy to spin a quick narrative. There are a lot of different production levels and techniques, the level of extremism is dependant on the audience targeted. These are quick to make and the target group is very much motivated to pass on and propagate the dissemination of the message. Designed by professionals, of which I am not, they are a key weapon in the cyberwar we must be ready for. A quick review of an earlier piece, "HAVE YOU BEEN INFORMED OR INFLAMED?" will give a little more insight into how you can be led down a path by the words an author uses to mould your feelings. That is after all what this is all about, inflaming your feelings, not informing you about the world.

DO YOU KNOW ANYONE ON FACEBOOK WHO NEEDS TO SEE THIS?


Thursday, November 21, 2019

PREPARING FOR ESCALATING CYBER WAR

We have to prepare ourselves for the information war to escalate.  We are at war in cyberspace and the western democracies are losing badly.  The war is not physical, it's psychological. We are being ripped apart, nations and institutions. It is not only the United States being attacked. It is the entirety of western democracy.

We are being turned on each other. It's like the classic movie scene where the guy escapes by getting the people angry at each other and running away when they start fighting. It is again not just the Americans.  It's Brexit, its separatism in Western Canada, it goes on and on.

How do we prepare? What are the weapons? How do we recognize a cyber weapon? What's real news? What's fake news? So many questions. It is very easy to not take the risk seriously. If the Russians were flying planes and dropping bombs, we'd get it fast. If the Russians were dropping leaflets from aircraft we'd get it fast. If the Russians were writing in the sky we'd get it. They are not doing these easy to notice things, but we still MUST GET IT.

This is be the beginning of a series on Factmissile.com where we are going to layout preparations for the cyberwar targeting YOU. it is important to understand YOU are the target.  Your point of view, your feelings, your relationships, your loyalties, your patriotism and much more are under direct attack.

Our next in this series, DISSECTING A MEME.

NOT WATCHING FULL IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS IS DANGEROUS IF NOT DESTRUCTIVE

As the United States, and frankly, the world continues to watch the impeachment hearings there is a clear sense of history. There is also a clear hope that the hearings will, as happened during Watergate, bring public opinion around. Around to what depends, honestly on your grasp of reality. In any case, people are hoping their position on the event will gain traction among the public at large, voters more particularly. Is there a difference between Watergate, BJgate and Ukrainegate? Of course, there is a difference.

In the previous two impeachment cases, there was no social media or even the Internet. You would not have been reading anything from a small website like FactMissile, or any other little opinionated guy. Everything came from the major news sources of the time. Some argue this is a good thing, though even as I sit here putting this together for you to read, I am less sure about it than many. Although I appreciate the opportunities this wide open landscape offers, there is far too much availability for abuse. Meddling in the minds of people watching is incredibly easy in the highly targeted world of Facebook and other platforms. Misinformation and lies have always been a problem but they are pervasive now. Media companies have large conglomerations of properties causing skepticism of the freedom of their news units and the intelligence and propaganda divisions of governments have become skilled at crafting campaigns to twist the narrative to suit their goals.

People have busy lives nowadays, right. They have little time to sit and watch hours and hours of testimony coming out of the impeachment hearings. People spend so much screen time it is really hard to say with a straight face they couldn't focus it on something as important and historic as what is happing now in Washington DC, but the truth is many won't, leaving the people crafting sound bites free to patch together whatever narrative they want to, presenting a sideways view to the people they reach. This is beyond dangerous, it is DESTRUCTIVE. Republican members have already orchestrated stunts that were designed for only the purpose of creating soundbites for their twitter and facebook accounts to broadcast an appearance that they are being shut down from asking their own questions. They have a considerable reach with the many people who don't have an attention span or time to watch it fully to assess the context of the hearings on their own. There is little doubt that the RUSSIANS will also be playing this game along with the Chinese and other governments hostile to American interests.

It is vital that people take the time to watch these proceedings on their own and get the full context of the hearings and events that have led to this point in history. The fate of the United States
literally rests in the balance.

Monday, November 4, 2019

CONSPIRACY THEORY WORD PLAY

A good conspiracy theory often starts with a real occurrence or at least a factual seed on which a pile of misinformation is heaped. Sometimes they are just plain fabrications like "The Bowling Green Massacre". So what are we looking for to pick up on a conspiracy theory?

Vague connections between people are given more weight than they have in reality. This is used heavily in Clinton murder conspiracies. John Doe worked for the Jane Doe Campaign and died under unclear circumstances. Campaigns of the size required to run nationally are massive undertakings. Staff can be, and often are spread over large areas. Many work for campaigns without regular contact with a candidate. Any number of these workers would have minor roles nationally with little contact and limited access to vital information. In life things happen and again, with the size of national political operations there is lots of opportunity for unrelated occurrences.

"Mysterious circumstances" is another conspiracy theory catch phrase, along with others that give the same signal. Something's happening  that we don't know about,  or more to their point, there is something going on, "they" are not telling us about.  Not every piece of information has to be released on an investigation. There is clearly opportunity for corruption in investigations for a number of reasons ranging from prestige and self promotion to greed and criminal coverup along with others. When information is not released it is easy, even natural to fill in the blanks, though, insisting that the missing information is incriminating MUST COME WITH FACTUAL EVIDENCE.

Don't be confused, there is room for legitimate questions when things go down, but along with asking those questions there has to be someone we are willing to accept the answer from, even if it isn't the answer we were expecting to hear.  Ask yourself who you are willing to believe on any question if the answer was not what you thought it would or should be. There are a ton of very legitimate questions around the attacks on September 11th 2001, however many of them have been answered and we can't just shrug them off without real verifiable evidence. How did 3 buildings, hit in different areas,  one not directly impacted at all collapse straight down, minimizing impact on surrounding structures? It's a valid question. Just because some of the answers don't make sense to me doesn't make them invalid,  my expertise in the field is EXTREMELY limited.

Conspiracy theories can come from people who have legitimate concerns about issues, people who have a point of view and trouble dealing with reality and most troubling, people who want to manipulate the first two groups. It's important to not shrug off the early questions but for all of us, we have to ask questions evaluate real evidence and take responsibility for not being taken in by manipulation coming from near by and far away

WAS THIS WORTH SHARING?