Tag: Internet

Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

September 11th, 2012 — 5:38pm

Trust Me I ‘m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator- By Ryan Holiday 

This book completely changed the way I view news and information that I get online from the Internet , especially from blogs but basically from any source.

The author shows  clearly show how modern day blogs on the Internet will make up news stories, exaggerate and suggest things are may not be true at all. He shows how stories on small local blogs will be picked up by medium size blogs  which will be linked to by bigger well known and seemingly reputable blogs. The writers are financially motivated to get page views.  Writers and editors get sucked into believing they are getting exclusive stories and will run them without fact checking. It is easy to imply or suggest something that is only a possibility and it can be put into a headline and carried forth to be  read by many thousands of people. This has the potential to give false information about products, people or any endeavor. Reputations are made and ruined by the spread of information which may have little or nothing to do with the truth .

There are numerous examples how stories spread like wildfire on the Internet. Photo shopped  pictures  or edited videos “ go viral” with all sorts of consequences from making or breaking a new product, planting disparaging information about someone or  making  them a celebrity overnite. If the information is not true and is repudiated the next day that often goes at the end of a rerun of the same story which keeps the information spinning around the world. The author sites several of his own experiences as a consultant for a company named  “American Apparel.” He tells how he created such hype and how he has been the victim of it created by others.  He  also reviews the more well known situations where there was a story that spread that one Toyota  car model had a stuck accelerator problem which turned out not to be true. There was the well knows situation of the  resignation of Shirley Sherrod. a high ranking Obama appointee . A video of speech she made  was edited out of context. She was  made to look like racists when she was quite the opposite. However the video went viral and was magnified by various news commentators. She resigned her position although later it was offered back to her when the truth was ultimately revealed to the Obama administration.

The book gives the impression that such situations easily get out  of control and the “new journalism” is one without very much ethics and is a major force in how we think today. There are market forces which lead us away  from traditional forms of communication which in the past were obligated to check  facts and at least avoid editorializing  the news.

The author Ryan Holiday  claims that he wrote this book because of the guilt that he has for what he has done as he manipulated people with false stories and created opinions and ideas that have no or little basis. There is the vague suggestion that perhaps this knowledge will make a difference and change the situation. The book is a good advertisement for hiring the author to manipulate your interests or products on the Internet or try to defend them against adverse opinions that are being created by others.

The book is repetitious but in the end you will have more information than you ever wanted to know how “news” is spread and opinions are molded by the Internet.  Unfortunately it is a blueprint of how to do this dastardly work and maybe even make a lot of money doing it. Despite the authors stated intention to change the way things go down, there is little indication that the book will make a difference. It may make a big change in how the readers understand what they read everyday on their computer or i-pad.

Maybe, on second thought that is the first step toward evolving to some kind of  a change.

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