On March 15, 2019 a mass shooting happened in Christchurch, NZ. About six months before that I had started working on a censorship-free project for video hosting called StreamRift.com. I made the decision that I was comfortable hosting it because I believed if I had lived in New Zealand, I would want to be able to see what happened to better understand what happened. I was a high school senior living in New York State on 9/11/2001. The ability to be able to see different information and research has been very important to me. I’m going to use that scenario as a method of comparing and contrasting #information, #misinformation, #disinformation, #shitposting, and #fanfiction.

In this scenario, we could identify #information as “facts of the case” as it were. In fact, there was a shooting. It is also widely reported from a number of deaths and injuries’, etc. Anything that is along the times of dates/times/places/etc is information.

What about the video itself? It could be any of the above. Given the nature of video recording devices, editing software, and a long list of creative solutions, it can be very difficult to determine the authenticity of any video. Even if the video is authentic, is it selectively edited? A good example of that would be the way the #GeorgeFloyd video was promoted. It took a very long time for the video that included the start of the conflict was even released, and it was never broadly circulated. George Floyd, void of context (such as pointing a loaded gun at a pregnant woman and a number of other crimes), having a cop on his neck saying “I can’t breath” is a nice simple message that is easy to induce a sympathy reaction. If, by contrast, the video had been played from the beginning of the interaction with the officers, the story would not have played the court of public opinion as well.

So here are scenarios where I think it would be reasonable to consider a #video as #information:

  1. It is presented in a full length without modification.
  2. It appears to present an objectively accurate representation of something.

A video can very easily be #misinformation. Some of the easiest ways to create #misinformation is to take a video and edit it in such a way it misrepresents the nature of the event/situation in full view of the facts. A classic example of this is a picture of a man pushing a woman, then you think “men shouldn’t push women”, then you move the border and reveal what you actually saw was the last act of a man that would surely die, but saved the life of a woman by pushing her. All of the sudden him pushing her doesn’t seem so bad; don’t forget, it is the exact same picture! Usually a video is only going to tell a part of the story, but for individuals on the lower end of the intelligence spectrum it seems very compelling when you take a real video of something and say it is proof of a claim you are making. The way that trick works is that as long as the claim you were making is supported by the video you are presenting, no other argument matters. The reason why I saw the low-IQ crowd are the most vulnerable to this is because even a person with reasonably high intelligence would find it compelling, absent external arguments. The difference of course is that when a higher IQ individual hears a differing opinion, they can hear out more interpretations of the same facts, but can change some of the assumptions. For example, with the #GeorgeFloyd videos, no one questioned whether or not the video I’ll call “#iCantBreathe” was accurate. I’m going to call the video of #iCantBreathe which starts with the officers knee on Floyd’s back #disinformation. The full version of the video should have been presented. If you gave 100 the #iCantBreathe video and gave 100 the full version (let’s call it #iResistedArrestFor10Minutes), the amount of sympathy most people would give the longer one is much lower than #iCantBreathe. So for whoever pushed that narrative intentionally, knowing it was misleading the truth of the story and presenting it in only the most biased way, I contend they were acting as genuine #disinformation agents. What makes #disinformation so dangerous is that it readily turns into #misinformation. #Misinformation is the better of the two, that is simply information that is inaccurate, but the person sharing it is not doing so with the intention of being misleading.

So how do #shitposting and #fanfiction enter the mix?

#shitposting can frequently be done sarcastically and it is easy for people to misunderstand. This is not necessarily done with the intention of misleading anyone, but it also isn’t a type of posting that intends to be understood by everyone. A lot of times shitposting can involved stating things as facts when the truth is the opposite. That isn’t always meant to misinform people, but it is a tactic used in online discussions. So, like everyone knows, if you read something on the internet, it could just be #shitposting. Always check the sources or just appreciate it for what it is. #fanfiction is a little easier to decipher. Sometimes internet communities will work together to create a story that may include simply posting as a character or persona. Generally #fanfiction is written in pages and groups specifically labeled as such to avoid any confusion, but that is more like writing a story as a group than any intention to deceive (just recreation).

The above is a piece of media I found on a very popular social media site. I don’t know if it is “real” or not. In researching the 9/11/2001 attacks, it has never made sense to me that a plane flew through that lawn. When I saw this gif it fit the entire set of issues I had with the plane narrative. This piece of content will get an account flagged almost as fast as a Hunter Biden laptop photo. If anyone has any more content about that I would love to see it.

So why did Josh write this?

Great question and I thank you for it. Over the last few years I have spent time collecting an enormous amount of pictures, videos, and other media from the internet. My media collection is around 20,000 files altogether. I would really like to find a way to sort it and be able to crowdsource vetting it. Some of it I collect because it appears accurate, but I also collect things because they make an interesting point. There are actually a lot of reasons why I would see value in collecting something. As an experiment on that I created what I call #TheMemeShow. I took about 10,000 memes and turned them into a video with each one playing an average of five seconds. I thought it seemed like a really convenient way to let a lot of people look through a massive amount of content, but also be able to collaborate it. For example, the episode (15+) and the timestamp let you identify the exact image you wish to acknowledge. Each video is an average of about 45 minutes long. It would be very easy for a small group to work through these and cull them down to the ones worth looking at. With literally 100 people you could have each person watch 10 different episodes writing down their notes and it would be very easy to track the notes. If 10 people saw the same image, they might label it differently. If you had some #ContentScreeners that could organize the intake on it, then anyone reviewing each image would already have the perspectives of a variety of people. I humbly present for your consideration that the method I just described is an excellent way to research information and to begin to have reliable accuracy on whether or not something presented is true.

So what does this have to do with money?

Another great question and I thank you for it. The point is that a lot of #marketing is designed to effectively work as professional #disinformation campaigns. The total revenue of the U.S. Advertising Revenue (according to statista.com) is nearly $150 billion annually.

I’ll close with this, no matter how strongly we believe certain things to be facts, over time a lot of things change as we learn. I try to be mindful of the fact that even the most vetted authorities can be wrong sometimes and I try to be in the habit of always researching something if a part of it doesn’t sound right. Usually hearing about something from a few different perspectives can give you a very broad understanding of it, so I personally find #misinformation, #disinformation, and #information all interesting, but for different reasons. Misinformation is interesting because when someone shares something, it isn’t always true. Disinformation is interesting because I wonder why someone is trying to be deceitful (unless it is an advertiser, I know exactly what is going on, they want me to buy their product). Information is interesting because it is always evolving and growing. For better or worse, the world as we all understood it on 9/10/2001 doesn’t exist anymore. I’m grateful to live in a time when I am able to gather information, reflect on it, and share it with others for their reflection. I hope that if you took the time to read this it helped give you a framework for how to sort information as you find it.

So what do you think are some of the more common types of #Misinformation and #Disinformation?