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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Brainwashing The World

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By Hal Lindsey

This week, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, summoned a group of conservative leaders to his headquarters in Menlo Park, California. He wanted to fight allegations of a liberal bias within Facebook news.

Gizmodo broke the story a couple of weeks ago. They wrote, “Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project.”

Facebook has consistently denied the claim.

You may wonder why it’s a big deal. Every news operation chooses what it will cover. But Facebook does not bill itself as a news organization. It’s a social media site. Its news feed is supposedly based on what people have been clicking on over the last few hours. That’s why they use the word “trending.”

It’s not a news site, and yet more than a billion people read its news feed every day. Farhad Manjoo wrote in a New York Times editorial, “Facebook is the world’s most influential source of news.” He added that it “operates under a veneer of empiricism. Many people believe that what you see on Facebook represents some kind of data-mined objective truth unmolested by the subjective attitudes of fair-and-balanced human beings. None of that is true. The question isn’t whether Facebook has outsize power to shape the world — of course it does, and of course you should worry about that power.”

Two years ago, Facebook used its news feeds in a massive experiment. They changed news content for a half million users, adding positive or negative stories to see if they could affect the mood of their users. They discovered that what they put in the news feed does indeed influence the mood and attitude of users. Positive stories meant more positive posts, and negative ones resulted in more negative posts.

Lauren Weinstein, a privacy activist said at the time, “I wonder if Facebook killed anyone with their emotion manipulation stunt.” She added, “At their scale and with depressed people out there, it’s possible.”

Big media companies routinely monitor viewers and readers. They watch what we click on, and how we move around their websites. They see what stimulates us, and what doesn’t. They claim to be trying to improve the end-user’s experience, though it’s usually about manipulation for the sake of successful advertising.

But Facebook went beyond that. They actually ran psychological experiments on people without permission. Have they stopped?

Every week, Facebook employees use an internal poll to find out what most of them want to ask Mr. Zuckerberg. On March 4th, they came up with this. “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”

So within the ranks of “the world’s most influential source of news,” there is a desire to use their vast reach as a means of manipulating the presidential election. If they publicly said that they, as a company, were out to stop Donald Trump, which would be fine. That would be a group of people using their influence to impact the system. But if they do it secretly, while pretending that their news feeds are about nothing more than “what’s trending,” then they’re dead wrong.

Newspapers and networks have always had bias in their news coverage. But none of the other news sources have a billion viewers or readers. And even the proudest newspapers have never exhibited the kind of arrogance shown by Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Like James Bond villains, the leaders of these companies honestly want to take over the world. They are convinced that they can remake it in their own image. And they lack the humility to understand what a disaster that would be.

Americans consume thousands of commercials every day. They identify with on-screen heroes that are often immoral and subversive. Humans interpret facts based on context, and in 21st century America, the media provides much, if not most, of that context.

This raises a question that should concern us all. How can we know how much we’re being influenced by all this data going into our minds? When the whole world is shifting, how can you know how much it has moved you?

For millennia, builders have used a device called a “plumb line,” or “plumb bob.” The design is deceptively simple — just a weight on the end of a string. It is a way to measure if a wall is perfectly vertical. When it is still, the weight hanging down from the string always points to
ward the center of the earth.  You can’t go by the ground, be

cause it can be uneven or slanted. But the plumb line will always be true.

In Amos 7:7, God revealed Himself to Amos. “The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in His hand.” (NIV)

God’s plumb line is available to each of us. It is His word. It will always be true — always “plumb.” From the world, we hear a cacophony of voices. Who do you believe? In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am… the truth.”

Measure everything by Him.

Credit to Hal Lindsey

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