The recent attempt by the right-wing propaganda machine to stir up interracial hatred by smearing Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod should be a call to action for traditional journalists. It is now clear that a component of the right's campaign against President Obama is creating racial backlash through the fabrication of false and outrageous propaganda.
When parents of toddlers started complaining that Procter & Gamble's new "Dry Max" Pampers were giving their kids severe diaper rash, Jodi Allen, P&G's Vice President for Pampers took prompt action -- and blamed the childrens' parents and social media for spreading false rumors about their products.
Supercool Creative, a social marketing company that tries to shape opinion by making viral videos and posting them on the Web, recently adopted a new Superman-like hero as its logo. So what's the problem? The guy is shown smoking a cigarette.
Jessie Daniels, an Associate Professor in the Urban Public Health program at Hunter College, New York, has identified a phenomenon she calls "cloaked Web sites," or sites published by individuals or groups who deliberately conceal their authorship to disguise a hidden political agenda. Cloaked Web sites, Daniels points out, can have very real consequences, especially in the area of health.
Lady Gaga is raising eyebrows with her latest racy music video, Telephone, but this time it's not because of the overt sexuality, the wacky costumes or even the fact that her co-star is Beyonce'. What's grabbing attention is the video's flagrant product placement.
Facebook might be selling you out to the government.
With the help of the University of California Berkeley's Samuelson Clinic, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents from the government about how they monitor and use social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn to gather information for investigations. The EFF struck gold with this request, as both the IRS and the Department of Justice released training presentations on social networking sites. While this may seem benign, the training material from the DOJ suggests that feds go undercover on sites such as Facebook to gather information on crime.
The DOJ slide show presentation (pdf) also discusses how cooperative these social networking sites are in complying with requests for private data. For example, Facebook, a highly popular social networking site, was described as "often cooperative with emergency requests," while Twitter was less cooperative because they refused to preserve data without legal process.
Wasting no time, video game startup Heyzap.com in San Francisco has created a video game based on Colorado's "Balloon Boy" hoax that is circulating on the Web and through Twitter. In it, a young Falcon Heene clings to a tinfoil muffin-like balloon while flying through the air trying to shoot down things that get in his way, like UFOs, rainbows and birds.