“Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.” — Attributed to Joseph Goebbels, and included in Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals

Using this quote from a reprehensible war criminal (re-quoted by an equally reprehensible American radical) does not make it less credible to the topic; it ought to make people think about how they are being manipulated by the forms of news media common today.

Think about this portion, “Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.” Once upon a time, “news” was the who-what-where-when — and sometimes wh — of TV and radio news, as well as the publishing world.

Today this no longer exists, and “news consumers” are assuredly unaware of the high tech manipulation of the medium to adjust their concerns/understandings to what “those who control news policies” want the public to believe fervently. It does not need to be complicated, just repeated endlessly from one media platform to another to spread like a bad virus.

No conspiracy theory here, just some basic facts as the mask falls away from the digital (and print) media façade of “freedom of the press.” In 2017, Pew Research, by no means a conservative outfit, gleaned the following statistics about social media users and the use of traditional vs social media news sources.

Percent of U.S. adults who use social media sites and percent of those who get news from the same sites:

Facebook: 66 percent of American adults use the site, 45 percent get news there.

Note this figure, it is very important: 65 percent of these Facebook users are in the 18-49 age brackets, another 24 percent are 50-64.

Meaning a total of 58.7 percent (89 percent of the 66 percent) of all American adult Facebook users are getting some or all of their “news” information through Facebook news feeds.

Youtube: 58 percent use, 18 percent get news there. Owned by Google parent company Alphabet

Instagram: 26 percent use, 7 percent get news there. Owned by Facebook

Linkedin: 21 percent use, 5 percent get news there.

WhatsApp: 11 percent use, 2 percent get news there. Owned by Facebook (also owns Messenger App)

Twitter: 15 percent use, 11 percent get news there.

Snapchat: 18 percent use, 5 percent get news there.

Reddit: 6 percent use, 4 percent get news there.

Tumblr: 4 percent use, 1 percent get news there.

So why will this be relevant to newspaper or digital media presence in today’s America, and even more so in the future?

Because Facebook has recently announced it will no longer be a neutral platform for news and information. Behind the fig leaf of being shocked at the criticism Facebook received for selling ads to Russian disinformation operatives during and after the 2016 US election — which had no plausible effects — Facebook’s previously obvious political leanings are now policy to be aggressively enforced by opaque digital technologies.

A recent report on the algorithm change Facebook has implemented relating specifically to news feeds and links to publishers demonstrated that this has a clear purpose, to diminish or destroy conservative web site presence and elevate those of liberal viewpoint sites.

To wit, Campbell Brown, a TV personality formerly of CNN and NBC, now heads Facebook’s “news partnership team” recently stated this at a tech/publishing conference,

“This is not us stepping back from news. This is us changing our relationship with publishers and emphasizing something that Facebook has never done before: It’s having a point of view, and it’s leaning into quality news. … We are, for the first time in the history of Facebook, taking a step to try to define what ‘quality news’ looks like and give that a boost.”

The analysis of traffic reduction or boosting resulting from Facebook’s algorithm changes is anything but an example of diversity of opinion being respected. Much like the overt liberal bias prevalent at Google, Facebook is doing its best to make users see only the sorts of “news” stories these elites believe should be put forward.

Of 50 publishers previously known to be getting notable traffic from Facebook, the Western Journal study found obvious changes after Facebook instituted its new algorithm Feb.6, 2018.The 25 liberal leaning publishers received an average boost of 1.86 percent. No surprise, the 25 publishers on the conservative side saw a 13.71 percent decrease in traffic.

If the data from the study is filtered to remove the sites with the least traffic from Facebook, the intent of the change is even clearer. Out of 35 remaining news venues, the 12 most liberal sites showed no significant change, a 0.21 percent boost. Though some like (Campbell Brown’s former employer) CNN saw an increase of 43.78 percent. Surely no bias there.

The middle left and “least biased” sites got an increase from Facebook of 12.81 percent. Eleven sites in that middle group got increases in traffic, two saw slight decreases.

Very happily for Mr. Zuckerberg’s crew, of the 12 most trafficked conservative sites only two saw increases, the Daily Mail and Fox News with 3.51 percent and 31.67 percent respectively, and best of all the remaining 10 sites saw decreases in Facebook traffic from 3.13 percent to 76.49 percent. If the skewed increase at Fox News were filtered out, the average decrease across the board at conservative sites would be 32.4 percent.

While most social media users do not understand this yet, they should. They’re being manipulated and society as a whole is being damaged greatly by the pernicious nature of this.

Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, a victim of government orchestrated computer hacking and theft, put it succinctly, “In reality, for those who bother to look, history and experience teach that the biggest dose of skepticism should be reserved for the authorities that seek to influence us and the information they want us to receive.”

Another View is written on a rotating basis by a member of a group of Midcoast citizens that meet to discuss issues they think are of public interest.

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