Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Alberta Wars Episode II: Attack of the Phones

A long time ago
in an economy far far away...


Episode II
Attack of the Phones

  1. Size, ownership, and profit orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large profit-based operations, and therefore they must cater to the financial interests of the owners such as corporations and controlling investors. The size of a media company is a consequence of the investment capital required for the mass-communications technology required to reach a mass audience of viewers, listeners, and readers.
  2. The advertising license to do business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a "de facto licensing authority".[5] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.
  3. Sourcing mass media news: Herman and Chomsky argue that "the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media's costs of acquiring [...] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become 'routine' news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers." Editorial distortion is aggravated by the news media's dependence upon private and governmental news sources. If a given newspaper, television station, magazine, etc., incurs disfavor from the sources, it is subtly excluded from access to information. Consequently, it loses readers or viewers, and ultimately, advertisers. To minimize such financial danger, news media businesses editorially distort their reporting to favor government and corporate policies in order to stay in business.[6]
  4. Flak and the enforcers: "Flak" refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet's public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[6]
  5. Anti-communism/war on terror: Anti-communism was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91) anticommunism was replaced by the "war on terror" as the major social control mechanism.[7]

Manufacturing consent in Alberta however requires a much different tone.

Item 1, is not effective in Alberta, as the propaganda narratives rely on manufacturing a consensus that all mass media is liberal biased (when in reality it is monetarily biased). The counter-culture "conservative" aspect of Alberta and it's perspective of victimization make a more subversive information channel more effective. In the end though as the revolving door of personal between Rebel Media (that had a booth at the UCP AGM), the CPC, and other Harper aligned movements shows the influence on these "media" organizations to be the same.

Item 2, isn't as effective in Alberta either for the same reason. You can't have your narrative advocate #DefundTheCBC and also rely on tight licensing restrictions. Thus the need to co-opt the alternative messages as I discussed in 'The real war is the information war and it has very much begun'. Instead Alberta is faced with "alternative sources" like Danielle Smith, and Rebel Media  given additional broadcast boost by the UCP and restricted selective interview access.

Item 3, is where things start to mesh up. Preferred access? Oh ya. You see, Alberta's counter-culture calls for a counter-media. But it's simply a different means to the same ends.

Item 4, Flak. This along with Item 5 (which for the purpose of Alberta is "anti socialist NDP" instead of just communism or war on terror - though communism gets its fair share of mentions too)

And now with the age of social media I would personally add another item: Item 6, the manufacturing of critical mass on social media.

This last one is interesting as we saw recently what can happen when this power is utilized by the people when teens from around the world convinced Donald Trump via pre-ordered ticket sales that far more people were going to be attending his first campaign speech than actually did. It's not a perfect example, as the manufacturing of the perspective he had more support than he did was aided with the help of his pre-ordered tickets but the effect was the same, and very visual for all to see.

The UCP utilizes this tactic as well. During the election a Federal investigation found that there was a coordinated campaign of fake accounts pushing UCP support. The accounts all supposedly originated in Alberta but if you know anything about how botnets work you know the "origin" of something means nothing as there is nothing stopping me from logging in to a server in the United States from here in Canada and then operating as though in the United States. Same thing works for hacked desktops, there are many "botnets for hire" that consist of remotely controlled hacked desktops providing the illusion of numbers from numerous locations. These can be easily filtered to show connections from anywhere one would like if they have enough hacked machines under their control. I highly suspect the IDU had a hand in orchestrating this campaign for reasons I describe in Alberta's Great Panderer.

Fake accounts, even if easily identified, are very effective at giving the illusion that the numbers behind an idea are larger than they appear. This gives confidence to the idea and makes it more likely other people will take it seriously strengthening it's reach. Instead of one voice, you hear a chorus of voices which naturally makes one more susceptible to the message. Indeed the UCP often brags of it's "historic mandate", how "Albertans fired the NDP", etc. They pull out the "numbers" card often.

Their Twitter propagandists are quick to Like/Retweet everything to give it the illusion that what is being said has more popularity than it does.
I see a lot of folks on Twitter mention that Twitter does nothing to propagate change. The UCP often say Twitter doesn't matter. They know it matters.

It's true that the audience on Twitter is small, but it's the audience on Twitter that is engaged. I'm sorry to break it to you folks but the giant chunk of people you're worried about not reaching, are reached via those that are engaged. They're just parroting the opinion someone they trust more on these matters told them. Seriously.

I focus explicitly on Twitter for this reason. I don't want people to parrot my words, or gain a following, or any of that shit. I actively work to suppress my reach and focus on my targets. I have faith in my readers to read between the lines, to absorb every link, to watch every video, because every post I write aims to provide as much pertinent information as possible in as many ways as possible for those able to make decisions with it.

The UCP knows this, too. That is why they focus their propaganda on Twitter yet post their videos to Facebook. They know what audience is where and their strategy is designed for each one. The UCP uses fake accounts and other means to create the illusion there is more support for them and their agenda than there truly is, this can have the effect of convincing the parrots there is critical support when in fact there is none thus in fact creating the support where none existed prior. The UCP then uses this confirmation bias in their arguments to justify why their policy is legitimate and mandated.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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