Op-Ed: Analyzing the Facebook memes — As dumb as it looks

Posted Dec 2, 2018 by Paul Wallis
The emotional and psychological manipulation on Facebook through posts and likes have been analysed, and the results aren’t pretty, or impressive. The findings also question the value of neuro marketing data, an ironic twist.
The gullibility of Facebook’s “believers” is now being segmented in to some grim, if remarkably naïve and very gullible, forms. An Australian National University study has found that the number of likes, and who likes what, drives acceptance of real, proven propaganda. Russian propaganda, including many highly emotive memes, was particularly inciting of “strong views”, aka whatever the idiots are supposed to think when seeing the memes.
The memes are basic, designed to hit simple, pre-programmed thinking. A picture of Satan, for example, supporting Hillary Clinton while Jesus opposes Satan, is hardly top of the line psychology. Good and bad are obvious, and so is the reaction to the meme, if you’re sufficiently ignorant not to even know how to question the basic ideas of it.
The old adage holds true on Facebook - Believe a word of political hype, and you are officially a sheep. You might as well believe in the Tooth Fairy. Exactly why these blatantly self-serving things are accepted, however, includes a nasty little extra. Seems the ANU test subjects checked out who had liked the memes, and were more inclined to accept and like if their peer group had also liked them. This is basic child psychology, friends = good, nothing to do with actual information, or having your own opinion.
The same applied to perceptions of (groan) Republican/Democrat dichotomies. Each side was less inclined to trust the other group, and group membership, as the study cites, was a decisive factor.
If this seems incredibly primitive thinking, that’s also why it works. People don’t question their friends or peers on that basis. The working model in relationships of all kinds is agreeing with each other. So to agree with a meme is to add to your relationship, and if that doesn’t tell you something, you’re even dumber than you think.
The House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is even less vague about the intent of these memes. See this link for the Committee’s findings on the propaganda memes. (This was the Republican-controlled House pre-midterms, so you can assume the House was pretty thoroughly convinced of foreign interference in the elections to accept it, ironically through “Minority” (Democrat) submissions and Mueller’s indictment information relating to Russian operatives.)
Neuromarketing, the fake-it-yourself marketing?
The irony of the Cambridge Analytica use of Facebook’s sewer of fake memes is that using fake data, they arrived at a method of fanning the flames. They manipulated a manipulated market, in practice. That’s like selling people fallout shelters based on someone else’s promotion of nuclear war.
The theory of neuromarketing is basically manipulative, but unlike real marketing, which is based on need, this is based on pure fakery. So the “marketing” was based on metrics which were themselves based on false, or at best, highly manipulated, data.
Whether this half ass thinking, let alone the bogus metrics, is worth a pinch of anything in real marketing is highly debatable. Looks more like the ANU findings have proven that fake marketing only works with fake data.
Consider this
• Can you believe that creating so much hate in America is in anyone’s best interests?
• Why is the reaction to proven, indicted Russian interference that “it didn’t happen”, when it’s on the Congressional record and backed up by actual indictments of Russian citizens?
• Can you really find other people’s opinions so much more persuasive than your own? How?
• What’s so scary or “wrong” about others, or you, having personal opinions?
• How do you trust people who are clearly trying to manipulate you, anyway?
I do a lot of op-eds, and I have my own political views. I’m pleased to say I actually got called a “hateful liberal” on LinkedIn, but I’m expressing my opinion as my opinion, not yours or anybody else’s. I try to explain my opinion, not tell people to “believe”. (Who wants to be “believed” by people who are too gutless or too stupid to do their own thinking, anyway?)
The Facebook haters, trolls, and general bozos are the earliest form of likely future attempts at neuro marketing manipulation. Understanding the process and being able to deal with it yourself is the best defence.
Now consider this: If you don’t have your own opinions, what do you have?
It’s a question you need to be able to answer.