Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Study: 60% of online Obamacare defenders are paid

A data analyst conducted a study of Obamacare posts on Facebook and discovered that 60% of more than 225,000 posts published by 40,000 profiles were actually posted by 100 people.  Kenneth Brown also found that most of those posts were published between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, strongly suggesting that the people who were writing up pro-Obamacare Facebook posts were getting paid for it.
Brown appeared on Sheryl Attkisson's show, Full Measure.
Washington Examiner:
He began investigating it after his criticism of the former president's health insurance program posted on the Obamacare Facebook page. He was hit hard by digital activists pretending to be regular people.
"Digital activists are paid employees; their purpose is to attack anyone who's posting something contrary to the view of the page owner wants expressed," he told Attkisson.
She reports that he evaluated 226,000 pro-Obamacare posts made by 40,000 Facebook profiles.
Brown: "Sixty percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time."
Sharyl: "Which means what?"
Brown: "They were paid to post."
Brown also discussed "Zombie Posts" with Attkisson:
Brown says it's rampant on social media. One popular tool: "zombie profiles" that make automated "robo" posts.
Brown: A zombie post is a fake, purchased, or rented Facebook profile that's expressing the views of an organization as if it was his or her own. But, when in reality, the comment being expressed is done on software and written by generally one or two people. So, the zombie posts will go out on a schedule and then they are supported by zombie likes.
Attkisson: Is there any reason to believe Republicans don't do the same thing, and corporations as well?
Brown: There's no reason to believe that everybody's not doing it.
The way the propaganda business is changing is really astonishing.  Part of it is the ubiquitous nature of social media.  But there is also a lack of critical thinking skills by the American public, who will swallow just about any lie if it's hidden cleverly enough.
As for Mr. Brown, it should be noted that we have little idea of who he is and no idea of whom he works for, nor can we ascertain the validity of his methodology, except for identifying the general kind of software he used for his analysis.  Also, there is no specific evidence that the pro-Obamacare posters were paid for their efforts, although the organized nature of the propaganda suggests money behind it.
The social media giants have little motivation to prevent this sort of Astroturfing on issues – especially as it relates to liberal causes.  About all that can be realistically done about the propaganda is to alert people that it exists and caution "caveat emptor" when reading social media posts.

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