How The Truth Was Murdered

How The Truth Was Murdered
Digitally Lit #263 – 10/10/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate and issue #263.

Let’s face it, a lot happens each week in the news. A lot of important bits and pieces. I use this space each week to take time to highlight the things you need to know and provide some context. Enjoy. 🙂

This week I worked on the following:

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Dictators – Kim Jong-Un

As a regular reader of this newsletter, we’ve talked about deep fakes a lot in the past. Deep Fakes are machine learning products where a face or voice are replaced with those of someone else.

Creative agency Mischief at No Fixed Address developed these deep fakes to shock viewers about the fragility of American democracy. Do yourself a favor and check out the websites for these companies…they’re great. 🙂

Read more here. Check out the video with Putin.


Facebook and the Group That Planned to Kidnap Gretchen Whitmer

This week, 13 people were charged with a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Wolverine Watchmen sought to instigate civil war by kidnapping the Governor and having her stand trial for treason.

We should have known this was coming as we see this wave of extremist groups radicalized online. A line of rage that flows from online memes to real-world violence.

Charlie Warzel pulls these threads together and lays the blame of the feet of Zuckerberg and Facebook.

With every bit of friction Facebook introduces to its platform, our information ecosystem becomes a bit less unstable. Flip that logic around and the conclusion is unsettling. Facebook, when it’s working as designed, is a natural accelerating force in the erosion of our shared reality and, with it, our democratic norms.

How the truth was murdered

Pandemic, protest, and a precarious election have created an overwhelming flood of disinformation. Abby Ohlheiser on why it didn’t have to be this way.

Irony-dependent meme culture has flourished over the last 10 years, with the racism and sexism often explained away by white reporters as simple viral humor. But the path jokes took into the mainstream, originating on message boards like 4Chan before being laundered for the public sphere by journalists, is the same route now used to spread QAnon, health misinformation, and targeted abuse. The way reporters covered memes helped teach white supremacists exactly how much they could get away with.

QAnon shows that the age of alternative facts will not end with Trump

Alice Marwick and Will Partin on QAnon, and the growing trend of people believing in things that are wrong.

QAnon is a right-wing conspiracy premised on the idea that Donald Trump is working with military intelligence to bring down a global ring of child-eating pedophiles. Q researchers call themselves “bakers” and turn “crumbs” of information from Q (an anonymous account who claims to have insider knowledge of the Trump administration). The “bakers” research, aggregate, and combine these “crumbs” into “proofs” which are then “bread” or a form of worthy research.

In this, QAnon believers think they are paving the way for the “Great Awakening,” an earth-shattering event in which all of Trump’s enemies will be arrested for being Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Marwick and Partin connect this group and their practices to Henry Jenkins’s notion of participatory culture and ask how is this any different than Star Trek or Harry Potter fans.

The Overlooked User

While social media has beneficial elements, it is also optimized for repeated, daily active use and is potentially harmful to the mental health and sense of well-being of some adolescent users, and has some negative effects on adolescent users more generally.

Amanda Lenhart and Kellie Owens on how social media companies also need to take responsibility for how adolescents use their platforms.

8 Ways Gaslighters Manipulate and Control Relationships

  1. Chronic Lying
  2. Normalize Falsehoods and Induce “Insecure Complex”
  3. Debilitate the Victim and Suppress Dissent
  4. Aggressive and Hostile When Confronted
  5. Isolate and Divide
  6. Perpetuate the Fake “Savior,” Fake “Superiority” Myths
  7. Offer False Promises
  8. Social Domination and Psychological Control


How to guard your social feeds against election misinformation

Preparing for misinformation might mean decluttering your feed, or making some suggestions to your friends and family.

Practice saying this along with me:

“Like you, I am concerned about the XXXX. Like you, I am concerned about the direction of this XXXX. However, there are other sources out there that may dispute some of the facts and dispute some of the stuff that you’re talking about.”



Feel free to share on Instagram or Flickr.

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While on this topic, listen to this interview with Marwick on Building Power Online. A quick overview is available here.

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