Facebook Ads

Ads come at us all the time on pretty much most platforms we are on.  Even if we don’t pay attention to them, there is definitely an underlying impact in our brain having those ads just sit on a page of something else you are looking at.  Remember when the movie theaters used to have subliminal advertising around the popcorn prior to the show?

Reading about how the Russians created Facebook profiles and then used those profiles to push out over $100K of ads and posts across the platform that were anti-Hillary and pro-Trump is extremely disturbing.  It will be hard to quantify the impact but it’s there.

Someone told me this story that says something about the propaganda from Russia on Facebook.  She is some Houston, first-generation American.  Her parents immigrated here from India.  Her father is now a retired doctor in Texas.  He has always been a Democrat.  He cares more about his fellow man than his taxes.

Before the election, the family gets together for something and their father is praising Trump, talking extremely right-wing and everyone is confused.  They wonder, has Dad lost his mind?  But the one sibling who gets the Internet said, let’s check his Facebook settings.

They make some adjustments, such as blocking extreme right-wing media sites that somehow were coming at him fast and furious and made sure that what he was now seeing was articles from places such as the Washington Post, New York Times, New Yorker and others.

Two weeks pass and guess what, he is back to his normal Democratic self.   The whole family sighed relief but think about that.  Here is an educated man, a doctor, who might be in his retirement years but a smart guy who was obviously being swayed by the articles and ads being pushed at him.  I find it extremely scary.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I went through a long period of not liking Hillary Clinton because I was half-informed (or less) about her. My opinions became shaped by media I didn’t even know I was consuming, and I don’t use Facebook. It was the peripheral effect of old school media. Painful truth, because, of course, I consider myself smarter than that. My mind turns now, of course, to teaching my kids to think for themselves and be critical of all media.If something doesn’t already exist, I’m sure we’ll see one or two powerful social media watchdog orgs — and of course technology startups! — emerge in response to 2016. Fake news, fake ads, fake friends. We’ll never be free of it, but I think we can tackle it and make it much more difficult for the scumbags.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I hope you are right

      1. Gotham Gal

        Here we go is right

        1. Pointsandfigures

          I think it’s important to get all the foreign money out of US politics. Remember when the Clintons tapped the Chinese spigot in the 90s? The big thing is transparency. I’d prefer to get rid of all the PACs etc. If someone wants to donate to a campaign, put your name on it. If Soros wants to fund something, put his name on it-not hide behind a PAC and vice versa for the other side.

  2. JLM

    .In the FB report, all that was determined was that “some” Russian source had, in fact, spent “approximately” $100K on ads which appeared to be political in nature.Let’s put that factoid into perspective by recognizing that is $100,000 of $9,800,000,000 in total 2016 election cycle ads. It is not even a drop of spit in the ocean.This information came from FB, an organization which itself has an ax to grind as it relates to both politics and policy. By their own admission, they have tamped down some voices and amplified others.The screen FB used was the subject of the ads. [Digression: Under the FEC rules if an ad is a direct endorsement of a candidate (mentions the candidate’s name), it has to be reported to enable a calculation of “fairness.” This has been going on for decades. This is why there are such good statistics on “political” ads and why PACs are so shifty. PACs pretend to support policy, but they are really campaign ads.]The FB ads were not directly mentioning either candidate. Many of the ads dealt with policies (subjects) which had nothing to do with the issues driving the election (as an example, the decision to terminate a Russian adoption program).The fact that these ads were from Russia interests me. [FB was not able to directly confirm that the ads were from Russia as the TCPIP addresses and forms of payment were not conclusive. Apparently, most of the payments went through PayPal.]I do not want the Russians meddling in our election. Then, again, I don’t want the US (the Dem party) meddling in the Israeli elections. I do not want an American President going to England and opining on Brexit. He carried the full imprimatur of the American people as our avowed leader, but the American people may not have supported his personal position (the union boss problem).Propaganda is a funny thing. Not funny haha, funny hmmm. When it is fact based, it is technically not propaganda. What we see today in the US is biased words posing as news morphing into propaganda.Some of the words are, in fact, simply not true — as an example the WashPo and the NYT and CNN have retracted stories which were lies. How do these stories make it past editors? How do these stories meet the most fundamental principles of multi-source journalism?Some of the propaganda effect is created by focusing on and repeating a single view or fact while ignoring other counter arguments or facts. That is propaganda by focus and is intellectually dishonest.What we see from the WashPo, NYT, New Yorker, et al, is propaganda.What is happening in the US today is everybody has picked their sources and is listening to the echo of their own voice. That is a self-policing program of bias confirmation. I do not think it is a novel idea nor is it new. We have been loving our own opinions forever.I have always been fascinated to learn what my ideological opponents think in their own councils of war. Thus, I read, religiously, HuffPo, et al.I freely admit that I have stumbled upon a gem or two which has broadened my thinking. If one can get the argument in an unvarnished manner before everybody begins to lie and become fixed in their views, it is useful if you are an independent thinker and can make up your own mind about things by simply knowing the facts. “Hearing” the facts and “knowing” the facts is different.Which brings me to my conclusion — political ads are totally ineffective. In focus group after focus group, groupies have disavowed the notion that their vote or their inclination can be traced to some particular ad. The big exception to this is the Goldwater nuclear mushroom ad which was theater.Political ads, which focus on the candidate, are ineffective.Political ads, which focus on policy, are effective.Bias confirmation is alive and well.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  3. Pointsandfigures

    https://www.amazon.com/Stri… I went to a lunch where Prof John Yoo (Cal-Berkley) spoke about this book he wrote. A lot of it is terrifying. I asked a question: If our social graph is public and marketers know exactly how to target us, why can’t an enemy target us to sway public opinion in order to keep us from acting-or entice us to act. For example, prior to WW2, there was a healthy debate in the US about whether that war was Europe’s problem or not. Compare that to our situation right now with North Korea. Is it a Type 1 error to act (which Vietnam or Iraq was depending on your opinion), or is it a Type 2 error not to act (as it was in WW2 where if we would have acted a lot sooner, it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was).What if the enemy can sway public opinion based on our social graph? Are there targeted stories swaying our public opinion one way or another on North Korea-and are they being planted by the NK government? What about Iran? Syria? Ect.Is targeting us via social graph any different than yellow journalism?Combine that with the new sort of weaponry that will be available and it becomes pretty scary.