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Letter: Media’s slant on social media data mining is a double standard
03282018 FACEBOOK
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. - photo by Associated Press

Last Saturday, March 24, The Times carried on the business page an article from The Associated Press, otherwise known as the left-wing media, with the headline “Facebook’s user data crisis continues.” The subheadline was “Social media site deals with fallout from major leak of information.” The conclusion from these headlines is that someone must have done a bad thing! Or you could say it was incitement by inference. 

It is not my point to support or place judgment as to the right or wrong of using data collected from public information that is out there for the taking. Numerous warnings have been published about putting anything on social media you don’t want everyone to know. The internet has lots of advantages but many dangers related to publicly shared information. Use Google or any other information source and ask for information on, say, office furniture or a bass boat, and I guarantee you will receive advisements in the same category as your inquiry. 

The obvious spin doctor’s double standards in the mainstream media’s stories — so-called news alerts, if you will — is where they generate or imply wrongdoing by President Donald Trump or those in his administration. This time, it was a Facebook association with an agency from the U.K., Cambridge Analytica, that collects data from social media, one of many agencies that collects data and sells it to interested parties. You may not like it, but it isn’t illegal.

It is again a glaring example of the double standard. When Barack Obama used social media information to tailor his propaganda and sway support for his campaign, he was praised by mainstream media as a genius for doing so. It was pointed out his use of social media gave him a decided advantage over Mitt Romney, who ran a classic, low-key conservative campaign and lost the election. 

To my recollection, the details of how, from whom and by whom the mined data was collected were never pointed out. However, if you are aware of the views or opinions of your potential voters, it isn’t rocket science to figure out how best to tailor your message of propaganda — with lies, fears, half-truths, etc. — in order to sway the electorate. The old adage of “tell ’em (your base) what they want to hear, or don’t want to see happen.” The Obama-Romney debates were the perfect opportunity for Obama to use data from social media (prior information). 

Whether Hillary Clinton used social media I don’t know, but she was supplied questions to be asked in debates (prior information) in order to appear more knowledgeable. How did the media handle it? It was ignored. It’s not unlike a politician’s way of answering a question by asking another question so as not to answer the question put to them, hoping you will assume they agree with your views. 

If we become more discerning, perhaps we will begin to see the pattern of “fake news” the mainstream media uses on us on a daily basis, and it is getting real tiring.

Clinton Hawkins


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