Blog Reader Caveat

caveat > noun: a warning or proviso of specific conditions. -ORIGIN Latin, ‘let a person beware’.

Controversy about blogging swirls around the new book Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday (2012).  The author, now director of marketing for a large clothing company, writes an exposé explaining how he uses outrageous gambits to manipulate and deceive even the largest and most professional media outlets.

In the information age, fake controversies all too often become “newsworthy” for mainstream media because of their increasing reliance on blogs for guidance to the latest “breaking news.”

In this light, Holiday outlines various strategies, including how he promoted one client by buying billboard space to promote a project, deliberately defaced it himself, and then sent photos of his handiwork to blogs that feed on controversy.  From there it was rather easy to post similarly outrageous comments on the blogs that commented on the photo, create a faux anti-client Facebook page, and to tweet bogus outrage to generate heightened attention through Internet “trending” reports.  Such counterfeit Internet activity now quickly overflows onto mainstream media front pages and nightly news broadcasts.  Rarely, if ever, are lies like this corrected.

All of this seems to be unbelievably simple to accomplish.  Given the state of the blogosphere that to a significant degree is driven by page view advertising revenues, according to Holiday, some bloggers pay little or no attention to journalistic standards or ethics.  Instead, they focus on their need for notoriety in order to make money.  Consequently, Holiday argues that “blogs are destroying modern journalism.”

My first introduction to this book was from the CBC Radio One cultural affairs programme Q With Jiam Ghomeshi.  Guest host Stephen Quinn’s revealing interview with author Ryan Holiday on 13 August 2012 can be heard at http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2012/08/13/ryan-holiday-on-q/ .

Also see a brief 30 July 2012 review of this book on Huff Post Media The Blog by Ron Church http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-church/ryan-holiday-trust-me-im-lying_b_1715524.html .

This Solving Task Saturation for Museum Workers blog does not run advertisements.  I do my best to document and fact check my arguments as fully as possible.

After learning about Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I Am Lying, however, I do encourage followers to read with your critical faculties engaged–just as you should do for all mainstream media and blogs that are platforms for advertising.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, trust me, I am not advertising here!

References Cited:

Holiday, Ryan (2012) Trust Me, I Am Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, New York: The Penguin Group.

4 thoughts on “Blog Reader Caveat”

  1. The American Association of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums provides a link to a posting by futurist Jamais Cascio titled “Lies, Damn Lies, and Twitter Bots” http://www.openthefuture.com/2012/08/lies_damn_lies_and_twitter_bot.html . The author of Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoenginering, expands on the the implications of Holiday’s Trust Me, I’m Lying by identifying the various uses of deception as a tactical method.

    Among other dangers such as the existence of “Twitter bots,” Cascio comments on media hackers who, earlier in August 2012, planted fake news stories on the Reuters web site.

    According to Cascio, “a Twitter bot network, retweeting/spreading misinformation, could potentially cause a media firestorm if the target was a politician. Even if the misinformation was corrected within the hour, the spread would be impossible to fully contain.” This has the potential to even swing an election for example.

    All this is further support for the idea that everyone must maintain a heightened critical awareness in the blogosphere.

  2. The International Herald Tribune has commented on another source of fake news–this time, openly admitted. The 27 August 2012 article outlines how Russia’s Fog News deliberately publishes stories that are pure fiction. As a form of social commentary, they try to show how Russia SHOULD be, rather than what it actually is.

    Some of its articles “go viral” as the truth and are impossible to correct.

    References Cited:

    Gessen, Marsha (2012) “The Fog of News” International Herald Tribune, 27 August, New York: The New York Times (accessed 11 September 2012) http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/the-russian-fake-news-media-outlet-fognews-presents-reality-as-it-should-be/

  3. NOTE: I have discovered that WordPress runs ads on this blog site to assist in maintaining its Internet service. Please understand that I do not benefit personally in any financial way from these ads. Of course I certainly do benefit by having access to this WordPress blog platform! Many thanks to WordPress for this functionality.

  4. American Election 2016 Generates ‘Fake News’ Discussions

    Following the 2016 American election, a good deal of additional comment, concern, & analysis on fake news has arisen.

    For example, see:

    “Facebook follows Google in banning fake news sites from its ad network” at http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/14/13633048/facebook-fake-news-sites-ban-ad-network

    “How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study” at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/business/media/how-fake-news-spreads.html?_r=1

    “Fake News, Global History Wars, and the Importance of Historical Thinking” at http://activehistory.ca/2016/11/fake-news-global-history-wars-and-the-importance-of-historical-thinking/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Activehistoryca+%28ActiveHistory.ca%29

    “Are digital technologies making politics impossible?” beginning at minute 4:30. Subsequent key point: fake news reduces credibility of actual news at http://www.cbc.ca/radio/spark/336-bad-driving-social-media-influence-and-more-1.3863844/are-digital-technologies-making-politics-impossible-1.3863855 .

    “Fake news isn’t going anywhere but it might change the way we consume comedy” http://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/schedule-for-thursday-november-24-2016-1.3863961/fake-news-isn-t-going-anywhere-but-it-might-change-the-way-we-consume-comedy-1.3863986

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s