Momo Hoax Shows America's Susceptibility To Bullshit Goes Well Beyond Social Media

from the demonic-chicken-lady-told-me-to dept

Social media outlets like Twitter have been rightly criticized for being comically inept when it comes to handling hate, hoaxes, and propaganda. But when conversations bubble up on how best to actually solve these issues, social media tends to get the lion's share of the blame for Americans' aggressive susceptibility to bullshit. In many of these conversations, Americans' susceptibility to bullshit is somehow seen as a new phenomenon, and Twitter and Facebook are exclusively to blame for American heads getting filled with gravel and disinformation.

In reality, America's gullibility problem goes much deeper, and it's going to take a lot more than some Facebook wrist slaps to actually address it. Case in point: you've probably seen something about the "Momo challenge" hoax that's everywhere. The short version: the hoax claims there's a viral game making the rounds on services like WhatsApp that involves a demonic-looking chicken lady goading young children into acts of violence or even suicide. In the game, images of said bird lady supposedly press kids harder and harder until they engage in violence like some Japanese horror flick.

Except there's nothing to the claims; and the photo being used as the cornerstone of the hoax was just an art gallery piece that first bubbled up back in 2016:

And while social media certainly played its part in circulating the hoax, the cornerstone of the spread was more traditional, brick and mortar institutions. Local news outlets, gutted over the last few decades thanks to media consolidation and budget cuts, played a huge role in the origins of the Momo hoax -- with only a fraction of the criticism faced by social media outlets. Many of the earliest reports first popped up on local media outlets in Argentina; reports that were then parroted by outlets like Fox News without much in the way of original reporting or skepticism.

Ultimately the hoax spread to major news outlets that perpetuated it via "bothsideism" news coverage that failed to adequately explain that neither the game nor Momo were actually real. Take The Washington Post, for example:

"The game, which many are calling the “Momo Challenge,” requires players to complete escalating tasks that are usually dangerous and involve self-harm. But, given the challenge’s mysterious origins and the unreliability of news reports linking it to actual harm, some question whether it’s simply another one of the many hoaxes that breed on the Internet."

Yes! If only there were, say, journalists who were resourced to investigate this and actually make the truth clear to their giant audiences, one way or another! In the clickbait era, the truth is often dull, and therefore doesn't sell. So a lot of outlets engage in "both sides" reporting because the chance there's a demonic chicken lady telling kids to kill themselves makes a lot more money than debunking nonsense does.

The dysfunction was global, and was often aided with the help of celebrities, schools, and law enforcement officials. In the UK, schools warned parents that the Momo game was being "spliced" into YouTube Fortnite videos. In Ireland, the police warned the public that the game was not only real and diabolical, it was being run by hackers who are looking for personal info. And when celebrities like Kim Kardashian decided to "help," they directed their fans' ire toward YouTube:

"Parents please be aware and very cautious of what your child watches on YouTube and KIDS YOUTUBE. There is a thing called ‘Momo’ that’s instructing kids to kill themselves, turn stoves on while everyone is sleep and even threatening to kill the children if they tell their parents,” read one of the two posts Kardashian West, 38, shared along with a plea asking YouTube to “Please help!”

Of course, YouTube certainly has other problems related to kids and perpetuating bullshit like flateartherism, but a demonic chicken goddess trying to convince kids to off themselves isn't among them.

Yes, the internet does make it easier than ever to spread bullshit at unprecedented scale; but any notion that this is something new or exclusively the fault of social media misses the point. Hoaxes wouldn't work if we cultivated stronger critical thinking skills (read: improved education) and focused on finding ways to finance and reward quality reporting. Human susceptibility to bullshit is not some new phenomenon, and many of the same worries about the expedited threat of disinformation plagued the early newspaper industry.

Social media isn't blameless, but it's also in many ways just a window into our existing dysfunction, not the exclusive origins of the dysfunction itself. Fixating exclusively on social networking lets the press, police, and the general public off the hook for our multi-generational susceptibility to a bottomless well of bullshit, be it delivered via social media, the police, educators, or your hometown newspaper.

Filed Under: gullibility, hoaxes, local news, momo challenge, momo hoax, tv news, viral news


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  1. icon
    Gary (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 6:38am

    Spirits

    I'd be nice if we could blame evil spirits for this kind of shit. They are so handy - when everything is just shitty, it's so important to pin the blame.
    We are just hard wired. We have to point our fingers and pick someone to take the heat.
    Blaming Youtube and Twitter often seems like trying to pin the guilt on evil spirits. We can't quite explain why they are at fault - but dammit, they are involved.

    Not that there isn't plenty they do wrong. Especially that privacy dumpster fire Facebook. But blaming them for spreading rumors is like blaming the post office for chain letters, or mailfraud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    trc, 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:04am

    Gullible Dunces

    so the point here would be that we're all very susceptible to Bull$hit and Social Media ain't solely to blame (?)

    The antidote to such gullibility and ignorance is knowledge.

    Knowledge comes from personal experience and communication of knowledge from other people (past or present).
    Most knowledge is acquired from other people via some form of education.

    The core multi-generational gullibility problem here is the dysfunction American formal education system -- which produces a plurality of ill-informed dunces. These dunces further contaminate society as new school teachers, journalists, politicians, and all types of media people.

    Fix the broken American education system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:08am

    Hoaxes wouldn't work if we cultivated stronger critical thinking skills

    Politicians and religions get a lot of power because of the lack of critical thinking skills, so they are not going to work to improve them just because others can also fool the people with hoaxes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:19am

    I deal with a lot of different people from different walks of life. Only time I heard/learned of the Momo challenge was mainstream media chattering about it.

    Does anyone have a similar experience? While I'm sure there was some small niche group who started this, it seems like 99% of this is the media going nuts claiming everyone is going nuts about something they never heard about before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:46am

    Re: Gullible Dunces

    The knowledge you are referring is generally tough in the ghetto, in the ivy league and is generally called wisdom.

    Knowledge like "If I steal that *** dope he is going to shoot me."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:46am

    80s slasher monsters.

    As an amateur fiction writer it feels like a rule of fair play never to feature something supernatural or exotic when something natural and ordinary will do the same. (Grizzly bears and mudslides entirely outclass Jason when slaughtering unwary campers.)

    But apparently movies are lousy with demon-possessed girls and haunted mirrors specifically because we are generally afraid to look at the real effects of lead in our water, or nearby fracking projects, or eras permissive of hate crime, or police more interested in profit than justice.

    Fake monsters allow us to process the horror of real ones without having to face them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:50am

    I wish I could say I'm surprised at the conduct of the media here, but I'm not. This is hardly the first hoax amplified.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:51am

    Politicians against critical thought

    Yeah, the great ironic ending to that story is that your obedient army will be more obedient to the guy who tells a better lie. The GOP is now the All-Trump-All-The-Time party thanks partly to a base never taught to sort out logical truth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:02am

    Similar incidents

    Well, there's the 2004 Mount Washington incident in which a McDonalds was called by a man impersonating a police officer and got the staff to strip-search each other. There have been other similar incidents, but Mt. Washington was possibly the most extreme case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    trc, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:02am

    Re: tough in the ghetto

    ...poor disadvantaged ghetto kids are the ones that our public schools are supposed to help the most -- but schools fail miserably.
    Most inner city public schools are horrible day-prisons with shockingly low student achievement levels produced by our 'professional educators'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:04am

    Re: Gullible Dunces

    When the hoaxes being spread are things like climate science denial, and antivaxxism, though, facts and logic haven't been much of a cure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    trc, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:07am

    Re: cultivate

    "cultivated stronger critical thinking skills"

    OK, how do you think that should be done ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    trc, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    yeah, government public schools are heavily into indoctrination, propaganda, and molding ideological attitudes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:18am

    Re: hardly the first hoax amplified.

    Scary clowns.

    Poison/razor blades in Halloween candy.

    Missing children.

    Alar on apples.

    Nuclear dangers.

    Unnatural foods.

    GMOs.

    ...
    ...

    I blame television, esp. the 24/7 cable news channels. They're tailored to bored people with nothing better to do than watch TV.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:19am

    Re: Gullible Dunces

    Complex problems usually do not have simple solutions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: tough in the ghetto

    "poor disadvantaged ghetto kids are the ones that our public schools are supposed to help the most "

    That is completely WRONG.

    The public school system is supposed to "help" all students equally.

    Which is why the idiotic busing of black students in the late sixties early seventies to white schools was doomed to failure. They should have fired the teachers at the black schools and bused the teachers from the white schools, not the students.

    But the unions wouldn't have put up with that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:33am

    Re: 80s slasher monsters.

    I disagree.

    The attraction of hobgoblins is that there isn't an explanation. That's what makes them "spooky".

    If you wrap up a story about monsters, demons, elves, honest politicians, or other mythical beasties by blaming it on fracking, global warming, or lead ingestion, you may as well have just ended with "And then they woke up!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    I have a co-worker that mentioned it from the standpoint of "Why are you letting your kids watch YouTube, they're not going to get that on Disney Junior," but she also watches stuff with her kids (like 5 and 3) and is employed. My response was something along the lines of, "If your kid kills your in your sleep because of some Asian horror-monster on You Tube it's probably for the betterment of society as a whole," and that ended the discussion.

    That was like two weeks ago, then yesterday she showed me a "Jason Momo" picture, that was Momo's head on Jason Momoa's body and we had a good laugh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:36am

    Re: Spirits

    The "why they are at fault" is pretty simple - the speed of dissemination of stories in the internet age.

    Forty years ago the start of a rumor and it's being published widespread took weeks, if not months.

    Now any rumor that sounds even 5% reasonable spreads in well under an hour to thousands, if not tens of thousands of people.

    As George Carlin famously said; "Think about how stupid the average person is... "

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    trc, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:37am

    Re: TV

    ...so WHY do the people producing TV and TV-news do that ??

    They are part of the "Media" being criticized here.

    Where did these TV media people get their ideas about what should be presented on TV ??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: tough in the ghetto

    Yeah, because levels of funding are not different between districts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    Yeah, private schools do none of that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re: Spirits

    Your argument is in reverse order. The general stupidity of "people" is the real root cause. The speed of information dissemination on the internet is just enabling more stupid people to be exposed to the disinformation faster. It may be the cause of "too many people exposed too quickly" but it's not the cause of America's susceptibility.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    And yet the more severe the problem, the simpler the solution (on average).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:46am

    Wait lets sit down and discuss this...
    Have a seat here with the 22 million evil clowns, help yourself to some ecstasy packaged as candy, and then an apple with a razorblade in it to finish it off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:48am

    "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that" - George Carlin

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:17am

    Last week, I basically had to publicaly shame my kids school district when they posted a UK government infographic hyping up with 'momo challenge'.
    really sad thing? All those at the school district not only know me, but know I'm probably someone to check with on this first.

    Worse, while I was chaperoning yesterday, at last two kids in the High school were talking about it as if it were real, based on what they'd seen others share elsewhere, including the school district.

    just utter facepalm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    Do you have an example?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Christenson, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:23am

    Older examples...might help with analysis

    Guys:
    There are lots of examples, many covered by Techdirt, including a favorite of mine:
    ** When the cops told people that gangs were driving around after dark with their headlights turned off and targeting the first car that flashed its lights as a warning. Early 1990s.

    **Remember the famous pre-internet quote:
    "A lie goes around the world before the truth gets its shoes on".

    **I have recently read a debunking of the famous Orson Wells "war of the worlds" radio broadcast panic. (1930s) (it was more news than fact, was driven by anti-competitive behavior over the newfangled radio).

    **In the 1950s, we had controversies over adding traces of fluoride to the water supplies, and there are those that to this day are anti-fluoride...something something gubmn't control.

    So, as Mike says, "Welcome to the seamy side of humanity!".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: cultivate

    It'll take a lot more money... smaller class sizes, throw out standardized curriculum - toss anything that "teaches" by rote. Basically, the exact OPPOSITE of how education works today, which is purely rote learning of a "standard" curriculum with the fewest teachers possible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: tough in the ghetto

    uh, no, parts of society always fund and maintain schools and education unequally, and society at large allows it. forced desegregation was not the best educational answer, but education was not entirely what that was about

    also in the last decades, being willfully ignorant and loud about it has achieved widespread cult status. groups literally fight to have wrong things taught in schools.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: TV

    TV "executives" that don't have the faintest idea how to actually run a broadcast network, and/or just have an agenda to push.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:42am

    Re: Older examples...might help with analysis

    To be fair, with all the fluoride toothpaste and mouth wash and ubiquitous dental care, most scientists agree that fluoride in the water isn't needed except in the very most poor districts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:42am

    Re:

    very good: introduce the kids to the idea that most probably never heard of, and give them a reason to be interested. these people create the things they are afraid of.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:44am

    Re: Older examples...might help with analysis

    The headlights hoax: Police actually came to my place of work to warn the employees about this. In a town with basically no gangs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Spirits

    Speaking of Carlin, the particular brand of nihilism that he used in his stand-up and the disturbing number of people that I've seen take that nihilism to heart and use as a personal gospel serves as an obstacle to the kind of improvements to education and other structural issues that need to be addressed in order to improve critical thinking skills as Bode suggests. The "If somebody decides to do something stupid and get themselves killed they're just helping to clean out the gene pool; let's just remove warning labels from everything and let Natural Selection do its thing!" mentality is counter-productive, and it's a damn shame that some people treat Carlin's comedy as words to live by.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Bruce C., 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:55am

    Before the internet...

    Among others...
    If you played certain LP records backwards you could hear messages from the devil.
    AC/DC stood for "Anti-christ/Devil's child"
    Dungeons&Dragons was a way to entice your kids into of demon worship
    A single marijuana cigarette could make you insane
    The martians invaded New Jersey.
    The Spanish were responsible for blowing up the USS Maine in Havana.

    Journalism wasn't exactly responsible even when news organizations had decently paid reporting staff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:56am

    You should add a third cause alongside media consolidation and budget cuts: The drastic shift in the advertising industry in which Google and Facebook now have a duopoly in the U.S. has also served to bleed local reporting of funding. Emily Bell discussed the issue on the Techdirt Podcast and I feel it's remiss of you to have not included that in the list of reasons as to why local news has been circling the drain as of late.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Bruce C., 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: hardly the first hoax amplified.

    Interesting...we both had the same idea about moral panic and hoaxes, but none of our examples match. Not because we disagree, but because there are so MANY.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Bruce C., 6 Mar 2019 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Oh, how I miss Mr. Carlin.

    There are so many of his riffs that are even more relevant today than they were back then.
    7 words you can't say are now more like 700.
    corporate and government double-speak has gotten even more bizarre

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. icon
    John85851 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 10:12am

    Re: Spirits

    In the Middle Ages (and even now), people would say "The Devil made me do it". The modern version is "YouTube made me do it".
    In either case, it's blaming an outside factor for something they should have known better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    Of course while YouTube certainly has other problems related to kids and perpetuating bullshit like flateartherism...

    Why is this a problem? I've read about people fretting about this and news reports saying YouTube is cracking down on conspiracy theory videos, specifically mentioning things like flat-earth theories and fake moon landings and whatnot.

    These crazy beliefs have been around a lot longer than YouTube and harm no one. It's not like there's some huge danger that if we don't scrub the internet of flat earth videos that our entire society will collapse in a spasm of ignorance or something. Let the nuts have their fun. If it makes some lunatic in his basement feel like he's winning the battle against "The Man" to post his theories about the moon landing and a movie studio in Burbank, why should that be of concern to anyone? Hell, censoring his video only confirms to him that he must be on to something if the Powers That Be are going to the trouble to shut him up.

    What's next? No more mention of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster allowed? Can't say anything about Roswell, New Mexico, that doesn't involve weather balloons and delicious tacos? Area 51... banned! Anything suggesting other than the official government line on JFK... erased!

    Stop trying to censor, delete, and purge everything you don't like, for god's sweet sake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    bob, 6 Mar 2019 @ 10:31am

    The underlying issue of all of this is that there is a shred of truth to it based on an amalgamation of several different true parts. There have been youtube videos with hidden content or the video itself is entirely counterfeit. Or challenge videos that resulted in bodily injury.

    Example: sesame street videos containing porn because some idiot thought it would be funny.

    Example 2: YouTube challenges like Tide pods, burning, stopping a bullet with a phone book, etc.

    So take those examples and now add the scaryness of some evil looking figure corrupting your kids. While the momo challenge is a hoax, the basis for it being real is a possibility. And that possibility is plausible enough that people should at least look into whether or not its real.

    Of course then the "threat" or FUD gets amplified by media, and other people that don't verify source material, and viola we have a global scarefest going on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. icon
    Thad (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re:

    There are so many of his riffs that are even more relevant today than they were back then.

    7 words you can't say are now more like 700.

    Carlin retired the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television routine in the 1980s, long before his death. His reasoning was that if he could perform the routine in an HBO special, then they weren't really words you can never say on television.

    While several (not all) of the Seven Words are still generally forbidden on broadcast TV, Carlin's point in retiring the routine was that broadcast TV was no longer the strict limiter on what was allowed in mass entertainment that it used to be; premium cable gave performers more of an opportunity for people to say whatever they wanted, and that was well before the Internet took off and we got video providers like YouTube.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:23am

    Re: The REAL issue

    Nice hot garbage take. Can your next one focus more on the lazy socialist teachers stealing our students precious bodily fluids?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Spirits

    it's a damn shame that some people treat Carlin's comedy as words to live by.

    Maybe, maybe not. But that is exactly what Carlin intended. He was a highly politically charged comedian who, in his later years, went completely off the comedy rails into rantsville.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Older examples...might help with analysis

    Where are all the anti-florine people?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re:

    I would expect more people to share your opinions on this. This would be a free speech issue if the government were involved. They're not so it's just Google/ABC curating the content on their platform. And they're not doing anyone any favors by taking this step.

    There are several protections built into the constitutions to protect even the craziest speakers and their speech. The authors recognized that the spread of ideas, even crappy ones, was critical to the development of the nation. Perhaps they expected too much of society 200 years into the future but with more people you naturally get more crazies. The speech is still important and individuals are responsible for filtering what's real and important. If the problem is that the vast majority are too damn lazy or dumb to handle that the solution is definitely not curation of all information.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. icon
    nasch (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:45am

    Re: Gullible Dunces

    The antidote to such gullibility and ignorance is knowledge.

    I would say much more important is critical thinking. I can be completely ignorant of a topic but if I see a social media post warning me about it, if I have critical thinking capabilities I can 1) recognize that the information presented is poorly sourced or unsourced and 2) do my own research to figure out what the truth is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:48am

    Re:

    The drastic shift in the advertising industry in which Google and Facebook now have a duopoly in the U.S.

    A quick back of the envelope calculation suggests that Google/Facebook collectively control about 30% of the total US ad market. Please try again.

    Yes, we could discuss financial problems within the media landscape, but there's no need to outright lie in order to bring it up. Especially lies that can be disproven within 30 seconds. It only makes most people reject not only your specific argument, but your entire position out of hand. And honestly, in this case that includes me...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. icon
    nasch (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    These crazy beliefs have been around a lot longer than YouTube and harm no one.

    There is one possible harm. It makes the conspiracy theorists look deeply stupid. But that seems a small price to pay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. icon
    nasch (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 11:56am

    Re: Before the internet...

    Dungeons&Dragons was a way to entice your kids into of demon worship

    I had a friend who was not allowed to play D&D for that reason.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. icon
    Thad (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re:

    A quick back of the envelope calculation suggests that Google/Facebook collectively control about 30% of the total US ad market.

    Is it possible that he didn't mean they have a duopoly in the total US ad market but in a subset of it, such as targeted online advertising?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. icon
    Dirkmaster (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:04pm

    Of course we are susceptible to bullshit

    look at how many people still believe in various religions. If you can believe in some big cosmic muffin that "has a plan for your life", how much easier is it to believe that someone is making bad videos to trick children into killing themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:10pm

    Yes! If only there were, say, journalists who were resourced to investigate this and actually make the truth clear to their giant audiences, one way or another!

    Timpool has been amazing at breaking down the failure of the digital media business model. A voice of reason in a mass of insane behavior.

    Tracking reader response leads to optimizing stories for outrage. Outrage gets clicks. We have far too many outlets leaning heavy on outrage clicks to justify further capital investment to keep the doors open, the editorial reviews jettisoned and the stress to keep clicks going leading to far too hostile attacks on potential competitors.

    The world is changing. The time of old media business models has passed. The internet was invented and we're slowly seeing the thrashing death throws of a dying model.

    A decentralized group of new media sources produce better researched material, faster, with superior presentation, from their livingroom, without the massive team and physical location overhead. That's model is here and we see the brunt of the censorship wars landing on citizen journalists at the forefront of content creation.

    This shift is huge and with the loss of power and funding for traditional media models, the public also has to learn how to access and engage with the new media platforms. It's getting easier to adopt the new media models, it takes time to shift a population over.

    In the meantime we see what could be described as information warfare, the mess of stories subtly and not so subtly wielding every emotional and psychological cudgel to drive attention as the slow bleed of cable and older models transition to our new world. It's an ugly event when giants die. A whole lot of bitterness with capital to voice their dissent on the way down.

    Probably would have been easier to adopt internet models early and not demand the world conform to the business, rather than fitting the business to keep up with the world. Now those models are far behind and it may be too late to adapt. A Sears in an Amazon world, the supply chain systems are too monolithic to adapt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    All that means is you THINK you are well-informed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re:

    More like it might cause a measles outbreak.

    Free speech and stupidity have collided.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Spirits

    So these hoaxes can spread but conservative viewpoints are "deboosted."

    Got it.

    Thank GOD those stupid people have folks like you to protect them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Gullible Dunces

    The problem with education is who gets to be the educator, and why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Well shit we found the 1 person who actually got drugs instead of candy for Halloween.

    This has what to do with my reply?
    Here have a tennis ball loaded with explosives to toss around...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Spirits

    It's probably more that hoaxes like "left-wing companies are conspiring to silence Conservative viewpoints" are much more moronic and easier to spot than the others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62. identicon
    Glenn, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:59pm

    "you've probably seen something about..."

    Well, no... no, I haven't. I don't spend hours--or any time--scouring the web looking for things to distract me from living my own life (no facebook, no twitter, no "WhatsApp" [is that how you spell it]). This is one of the few sites I visit.

    Too much info [or data if you prefer] seems to mean too little thinking. "Smart" devices are making people more stupid. Unsurprising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63. identicon
    Rekrul, 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:01pm

    Did you know that the word "gullible" isn't even in printed dictionaries? Most people don't believe it until they check for themselves.

    A couple years ago, I was watching various "news" videos on YouTube and I stumbled across one (narrated by text-to-speech software of course) which claimed that Chelsea Clinton had gotten drunk in a small town bar, took a cab out to some closed factory, threw rocks and beer bottles through the windows, and when the cops arrested her, she screamed that her mother (Hillary) would have them all killed. The comments were full of people who believed that this actually happened and that it was covered up.

    Finally, I'd just like to say that the "Momo" shown in the photo is nightmare fuel. Someone should put that thing in a horror movie!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, I accidentally clicked the wrong reply button after scrolling up to copy the quote and back down again, and you felt the need to be an insufferable prick about it. Must be a day ending in 'y'.

    One would expect a normal person to have just realized the mistake for what it was and moved on, but not you. You really showed me with your zinging rhetorical flourish, didn't ya? Plus 10 internets for you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    Finally, I'd just like to say that the "Momo" shown in the photo is nightmare fuel. Someone should put that thing in a horror movie!

    There's almost certainly some Hollywood studio exec exploring just that possibility right now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66. icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:12pm

    Problems with BS

    there are some stupid things here and it can make stupid things happen.

    1. We get so used to the BS, that we start NOT paying attention to what is really happening. We dont care anymore, and any news or information, we Dump into the crapper.. We will miss little warning and BS, that are telling us warnings, and what the gov. is doing what corps are screwing over Who..
    2. The idiots that dont paly the 2 year old card... Why? If you cant ask why, and you follow the instructions, or believe in everything you hear and see, your Eyes will become brown and we will all know you are Full of BS..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Your deranged ranting is plenty worthy of ridicule all on its own, even if hadn't been in the wrong spot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68. icon
    Thad (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Spirits

    So

    Got it.

    Thank you for clearly labeling your strawman.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69. icon
    Thad (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:33pm

    Re:

    Well, no... no, I haven't. I don't spend hours--or any time--scouring the web looking for things to distract me from living my own life (no facebook, no twitter, no "WhatsApp" [is that how you spell it]).

    I'm guessing dictionary.com is another one of those waste-of-time sites you're too cool and smart to visit, or you'd know what "probably" means.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Do you buy your panties prebunched?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 2:33pm

    And then they woke up

    We like our movie ghoulies unknown. Lessee...

    <diatribe>

    Zombies that are not raised by Hoodoo magic are instead raised by radiation or plague. Then there's parasite-hosts and alien pod-people but those don't quite count as zombies. Still, zombies to match the era.

    Vampires who are not cursed / excommunicated Baltic noblemen are, instead, children of Lillith or Cain, though Anne Rice invoked some pre-biblical Nubian figures. Vamps typically tie into Christian mythology. Wes Craven once made a good case for Judas being a vampire.

    In the 70s we had a lot of Satan and Antichrist, partly due all the knockoff movies following The Exorcist. In schools they were still punishing girls for witchcraft and forbidding Rock & Roll and later AD&D well into the eighties. We laugh now, but then, Satan was serious business, 70s-era atheism came with sliderules and pocket-protectors. None of the many churches in the US liked each other very much. (The religious right was only just getting started.) The whole SRA scare came from possessed girls and antichrist boys on the silver screen, and a misunderstanding of hypnosis.

    Nightmare on Elm Street was based on articles in the LA times about men in East Asia that died, allegedly from nightmares. Wes was skeptical but inspired and ran with it. Jaws was a misunderstanding of shark behavior. The slashers of the eighties were And Then There Were None revisited, replacing the Clue characters with horny, boozing, unsympathizeable teens. Jessica Fletcher was committing all the Agatha Christie cozy murders and getting away with them all. Every. Last. One.

    Ghosts were all just pissed off and wanted justice / revenge / one last fling before going on. Except in Ghostbusters, in which they could be trapped like vermin so who cared what they want. If you didn't have proton packs, getting rid of haunts usually involved researching what happened when they lived.

    We've had more than our share of toxic-waste monsters, including (technically) Godzilla and all the kaiju (the product of nuclear fallout from the atomic bomb drops mutating undersear fauna). I think later Godzillas grew out of poorly-disposed toxic-waste

    During the rise of the internet we had killer hackers and teen hackers and corporate hackers. Greedy corporate agents replaced had long replaced the mad scientist in releasing unstoppable evils onto society. (So, yeah, like fracking.) Terrorists were middle-eastern but not particularly Muslim. Bank-robbers and heisters came from Chicago.

    In the 90s, the internet knew everything about you, which all could easily be looked up, which cranked stranger-in-the-house stalkers up to eleven. Artificial Intelligence still gained sentience by something fritzing the electronics, say with water or a lighting strike. And every single time, self-aware AI would regard humanity as a threat and turn monstrous.

    As we approached Y2K, we had a run of Revelations-based apocalypse movies (Satan comes to town and shakes things up). As we approached 2012, we had another batch of apocalypse movies that didn't feature Satan (bad weather comes to town and shakes things up). Essentially it was a revisit of the Airport and Earthquake movies of the 70s, just globalized. One actually referenced the Mayan calendar. The Day After Tomorrow was the one movie based on a global warming scenario. Specifically it was a fringe version of the clathrate gun hypothesis that suggested a very rapid temperature correction. We like our disasters to be about as long as movies, say, the sinking of the Titanic, or a nuclear exchange.

    Clathrate gun, incidentally, is one of those things that can happen but we don't know when or how much of an impact it might have. (we make educated guesses) There are quite a few things that might happen, any one of which will define the adult life of my grandkid. That includes our storm and fire seasons continuing to get progressively worse. But yeah, in the best case scenario, we'll all be just fine.

    But no. It seems that our cinematic horrors were consistently connected to whatever real world concerns were happening at the time. It may have been a mystery in act one why Slimeface was eating all the teenagers, but in act three it would turn out to be fracking or lead in the water or hotels on indian burial grounds.

    I'd still use a bear or a tiger instead of a slasher if I needed something rampaging against teen campers.

    In full disclosure, my wife's daughter recently went to see the Ouija movie. I heard the sequel was better than the original. So we still have kids meddling with the occult and causing mischief. And we also have had a run of little-girl demon possessions making a comeback. So, then, are Agatha Christie mysteries.

    </diatribe>

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Older examples...might help with analysis

    gubmn't...LOL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    Did you know that the word "gullible" isn't even in printed dictionaries? Most people don't believe it until they check for themselves.

    You're full of shit, no citation needed

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74. icon
    Thad (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Sounds like somebody's mad he checked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: cultivate

    Also I suspect authoritarian attitudes are strongly to blame for it - 'shut up and obey' is the opposite of what is needed for good citizens - to question and call out bullshit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Says the guy whose sandy vagina produced this masterpiece in response to a simple mistake:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/58bwn23ytbh12jx/AC.jpg?dl=0

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    Craigslist has free classifieds, and newspapers (who used to rely on classifieds to turn a profit) were unable to compete with free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Of course we are susceptible to bullshit

    Einstein said creations have creators.

    You're smarter, however.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:54pm

    Re:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:56pm

    Re:

    Craigslist destroyed newspapers more than Google or Facebook ever have, with their "cannot compete with free" classified advertising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Before the internet...

    The Weekly World News had high standards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    So go be the change you want. And take your stupid strawman with you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So that’s a yes then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84. identicon
    Qwertygiy, 6 Mar 2019 @ 6:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    As opposed to doing no thinking, and merely being told by someone else that "this is the truth" and believing yourself to be well-informed just because they say you are?

    Critical thinking means comparing what you are told, with what you already know to be true, and being unbiased in determining which of the two is more accurate.

    That means being able to prove that 2 and 2 don't make 7, even if someone else told you that it did, because you know what 2 is and you know what 7 is and you know how to do addition.

    It means believing that lightning is a form of static electricity and not the wrath of an angry Norse god, because everyone who has ever claimed lightning is static electricity has said "here is why and here is how you can check it yourself" and everyone who has ever said lightning is the wrath of an angry Norse god has said "it just is, you have to believe me, because you're not worthy enough to see him, and those other people are lying because it's impossible to explain his powers and so they can't possibly know how it works".

    It means not believing JimBob McSnaycoil's claims to be able to lift ten tons with his bare hands, or that his Uber Juice has given him that strength, because you know nobody is naturally able to lift two tons and that it's a lot more likely that he's the millionth guy to use stage tricks to seem strong, and a lot less likely that he's the first guy to actually be strong enough to lift ten tons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:12pm

    Re: Re: Of course we are susceptible to bullshit

    Logic error there -
    "Creation" is a false premise to start from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86. icon
    Gary (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Spirits

    In Carlin's later years he may have gone off the rails - but everyone quotes him from his earlier rants. So what does that mean? He spoke for the common person and their fears.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Re: Of course we are susceptible to bullshit

    By definition, yes, however one needs to demonstrate that something is a 'creation' before moving on to working on what(which may or may not be a 'who' depending on how wide you want to define 'creation') created it.

    The second half is flawed as well(and in fact I'm pretty sure would fall under the logical fallacy of 'argument from authority'); just because someone is smart in general doesn't mean that they can't be wrong on specific topics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:49pm

    "creations have creators"

    The big bang vs. steady state debate was going on while Einstein was doing work on relativity, only the former of which suggested a point of transformation. Steady state was often inferred to mean an unlimited past.

    The Pope preferred big bang over steady state because it implied an origin, and to religious minds a creator, though at this point we have two situations that displace any alleged creator that might start the big bang:

    1) Time is function of the universe space-time frame. Hawking argued there is no before in which a cause can exist. So, as impossible as the big bang may seem without a cause, it is equally impossible for it to have a cause. Really, this only reveals, as with black holes, the mathematics of our model collapses at this singularity.

    2) M-theory suggests the big bang was naturally caused (by the intersection of two branes within a higher order called the bulk) What created the bulk is outside of the scope of what humans can observe or even guess at.

    PS: I can't find a quote from Einstein that suggests creations have creators can someone provide me a source or context?

    He did say I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:55pm

    Gulls

    Gull, like boobie and tit were characterizations as well as birds. Gulls were suckers. marks. To gull someone was to cheat, lure or swindle them.

    Hence gullable circa 1818, later became gullible.

    There, now no one has to look it up.

    Also, you just won the game. Congrats!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 1:54am

    Welp, guess we know who's going to be featured in the Yo-Kai Watch Shadowside game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 2:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Read the article, or at least the headline.

    You aren't likely to be the only one who googled the definition to see, if it is in fact, printed or not. Or are you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 2:25am

    Re: Gulls

    Not sure what game you are playing that I won, but thanks!

    "There, now no one has to look it up."
    Excellent citation, by the way, you deserve an award yourself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Gullible Dunces

    Facts matter

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  94. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Re: TV

    aka sinclair

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 6:42am

    Re: Of course we are susceptible to bullshit

    Yes, they have a plan for you and everyone else and they want you to think it came from the guy in the sky because then it is blasphemy to see anything wrong with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  96. icon
    Thad (profile), 7 Mar 2019 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You aren't likely to be the only one who googled the definition to see, if it is in fact, printed or not.

    I mean, I got the joke the first time I heard it in third grade, but yes, I do realize that there are people here who not only don't understand jokes but get very, very angry about them.

    I've seen people try and argue with the guy talking about "delicious, delicious paint chips."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  97. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Sure, but then the problem would be "local reporting, which relied heavily on print advertising, is failing due to the drastic shift in advertising dollars from print media to targeted online media" rather than "local reporting is failing due to the drastic shift in number of providers of online targeted advertising services."

    It's difficult to blame your failure on a duopoly when you had already failed before that duopoly became relevant, nor does it seem likely that they would become magically successful if online advertising services were a hypothetical perfectly competitive market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  98. identicon
    Rekrul, 7 Mar 2019 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You aren't likely to be the only one who googled the definition to see, if it is in fact, printed or not. Or are you?

    Do you need help getting the hook out of your mouth? ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  99. icon
    cattress (profile), 8 Mar 2019 @ 12:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: cultivate

    On average, who is spreading this nonsense? School children? College aged young adults? Ya know, those idiots fresh out of school and the purported victims of Momo (or blue whale, or windowless vans...) Nope, it's full grown ass adults. Seems to me that young people have and use their (still developing) critical thinking skills, all the time in fact. But we adults think that because we have achieved adulthood and do responsible things like hold a job and buy insurance, that we don't have to thoughtfully analyze the veracity of the story about momo, or that newly discovered poisonous spider that killed 5 people, or women being smuggled against their will in trunks of cars with duct tape over their mouths because another fully grown ass adult shared the story. We think these youngin's need to yield to us because damnit we know better!
    Take a second and think back... Did you ever see something like a giant insect, or something incredible that the adults simply didn't believe until they (grudgingly) saw it for themselves? They assumed you, a child, didn't know what you were talking about or were lying.
    Anyone else see the stories of young people with antivaxer parents who did the research and got vaccinated, or caught the measles and now speak in favor of vaccinations?

    There is no lack in critical thinking skills, at least not one that better education can resolve. The problem is that as we get older we assume our experience makes us wiser and that some how translates to an attuned innate ability to detect fact from fiction. We dig in and weaponize our skepticism to make others look foolish instead of engaging new or different ideas. We end up screaming about how obviously it is the internet (or television, radio, comic books, novels, bicycles) and helicopter parenting (or lax parenting, single parents, working mothers) and the garbage schools are teaching that is destroying future generations. It's all bullshit. The kids are alright. They always are. We're the idiots talking about momo while the kids are talking about gun violence and climate change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  100. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2019 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Only if you really think I need it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 9 Mar 2019 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Older examples...might help with analysis

    Probably in the places that need it most. :)

    Everybody else is using bottled water or a purifier since city water normally sucks in most places.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2019 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: tough in the ghetto

    I recently read The Bell Curve and found it entirely convincing, which is something that usually doesn't happen. Anyways, a classroom where the average IQ is 85 is going to be quite a challenge as compared to a classroom with an average IQ of 100 or higher. Our welfare system has basically been a selective breeding system encouraging low IQ people to breed and produce low IQ babies. How are teachers supposed to do much of anything about that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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