Social Media

Doctors Are Braving Social Media to Battle Medical Misinformation

22 June 2019

From Medium:

Health misinformation plagues the internet, and it isn’t only anti-vaxxers who buy into it. From influencers peddling useless supplements to fashion publications extolling the virtues of CBD oil face masks, misinformation — while often not malicious — touches most of us. At best, it can waste time and money. At worst, it puts people’s lives at risk.

The question of how best to battle this misinformation, if at all, is a vexing one within the medical community. What responsibility do doctors and other medical professionals have in fighting pseudoscience, particularly online? Some believe doctors should essentially be seen and not heard. A growing contingent of the medical community, however, is choosing to voice their frustration and correct the record on social media. But this comes with some risk, as confronting conspiracy theorists and alternative health moguls can be exhausting and even dangerous.

These medical professionals — doctors, nurses, even health policy lawyers — often differ in their methods, but for the most part they share one goal: to battle the health misinformation that infiltrates every corner of the internet. And while anti-vaxxers, who cluster in private Facebook groups and other closed communities like fervent supporters of some new church, may be beyond the reach of even the savviest doctor online, the rest of us — from those who may have questions about new dermatological treatments to those who aren’t entirely convinced one way or another about vaccines — could stand to benefit from the wisdom of the medical professionals who dare wade into social media’s treacherous waters.

Austin Chiang, a gastroenterologist based in Philadelphia, is the president of the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM), a new nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate doctors on proper social media use and advocate for it as a crucial tool in the public health toolbox.

. . . .

Patients are getting their medical information from social media and Google — everywhere “except for the clinic visit that they have with us for 30 minutes at a time,” Chiang says. “With every single field out there, there’s something that is misinterpreted or misconstrued by the general public… We want to meet the patient where they are.” Chiang points to the existence and belief in colonic cleanses and detox teas as two issues that plague his own specialty, along with the most commonly known medical misinformation issue, anti-vaxxers.

Doctors need to consider their digital bedside manner as they approach all of this, but there’s a problem. Medical professionals, says Chiang, aren’t taught how to communicate online in an engaging and accessible manner, while the communications teams employed by hospitals and doctor’s offices don’t possess the same medical expertise as the doctors and nurses themselves. “If we aren’t engaged with online discussion, then the conversation is dominated by other people, and who knows where they’re getting their information from,” he says. “There are plenty of docs and nurses online these days, but relatively speaking, compared to the number of health professionals we have out there it’s still a very small minority.”

Link to the rest at Medium

PG wonders if there are any other groups of professionals of whatever profession who are undertaking this sort of task, to battle blatant misinformation online. He is unaware of any group of lawyers who do so, although there are quite a few trustworthy sites that provide reliable legal information on various topics.

Amazon is clapping back at politicians on Twitter

19 June 2019

From The Washington Post:

Amazon’s public relations Twitter account is starting to look a lot more like a political rapid response unit as the retailer increasingly becomes a punching bag for Democrats.

The company clapped back yesterday at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and defended its $15 minimum wage for workers after she criticized Amazon chief executive and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos for paying people “starvation wages” in an interview over the weekend.

. . . .

That’s part of a broader pattern: The company has also sought to fact-check statements from 2020 hopefuls in between tweets promoting one-day shipping and its Kindle devices. It disputed former vice president Joe Biden’s comments last week about how much it pays in taxes and pushed back in April on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s criticism of its treatment of competing sellers on its platform.

. . . .

This is a marked change from the traditional tech industry strategy to keep an arms-length from the daily political debate and wait out 24-hour news cycles. But Amazon appears to be realizing that a quiet playbook doesn’t work as the concentration of corporate power becomes a key 2020 issue for Democrats on the campaign trail — who have no qualms with singling out specific companies.

“[Amazon] can’t afford to be passive about it,” said Larry Parnell, an associate professor of strategic public relations at George Washington University. “Corporate America is finding that engaging in the political process — like it or not — is part of doing business.”

. . . .

For Amazon, Twitter could be an avenue to quickly set the record straight when they feel prominent politicians are spreading false information about the company.

“Amazon is simply correcting the record when high-profile candidates or elected officials make statements about the company that are either incorrect or misleading,” said a person familiar with the company’s thinking. “Errors and misunderstandings become accepted truths if they go uncorrected.”

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

PG says this is (or should be) basic corporate public relations in 2019. He understands that a great many large well-known business organizations besides Amazon have rapid response teams that operate 24/7 to reply to and/or rebut social media criticism as quickly as possible.

PG would not be surprised if at least some of these teams include both official company spokespeople and those not formally associated with the company but who can also quickly act to generate additional online rebuttal messages. If you’re worried about potentially damaging effects from a Twitter mob, you might want to have your own Twitter mob on call.

Like him and the tone of his communications or not, Donald Trump works social media in a manner that PG thinks is effective (if not tasteful, dignified or suited to the office of the President). His tweets are eminently quotable, make news and frame political discussions. In the online universe, he can’t be ignored or overwhelmed by a digital mob.

Like it or not, Amazon is a large target for criticism from a wide variety of individuals and organizations. It can’t prevent criticism, justified or not, but a rapid response can help prevent an online assault from breaking out into the rest of the world with a lot of momentum.

Anyone who asks, “What does Amazon say about this?” should be able to obtain a quick answer. If Amazon doesn’t have an answer, human nature and mob psychology will assume the company is hiding something that reflects badly upon it.


Construction Guy Instagram Influencer Turns out to Be Coffee Ad Stunt

19 June 2019

From Petapixel:

A construction guy named Omar in Austin, Texas, became an “Instagram influencer” recently after attracting hundreds of thousands of followers to his @justaconstructionguy account with just a handful of photos. But it turns out the guy was a carefully crafted persona designed to help a small coffee shop sell coffee.

After being created in May, the account shot to Insta-stardom when it was Tweeted out by Twitter user @barbzlovescarbs, who purported to be Omar’s daughter.

In his photos and captions, Omar was apparently an ordinary construction worker who had a knack for poking fun at Instagram’s exploding “influencer” culture:

. . . .

The coffee roaster Cuvée Coffee in Austin finally revealed that the whole thing is actually a clever marketing stunt that resulted from a “creative brainstorming session.”

“The whole idea was what we always thought as an influencer, and what we used as an influencer in the past, they don’t always fit our brand,” owner Mike McKim tells BuzzFeed News. “We need a different type of influencer: a hard-worker, blue-collar guy.”

McKim enlisted the help of the advertising agency Bandolier Media, which helped him to create “Omar”, a fake influencer persona who’s played by an actual Austin-area construction worker. @cuveecoffee is tagged in several of Omar’s posts. After the @barbzlovescarbs Tweet, things just took off, spreading through social media and sites like Reddit.

Link to the rest at Petapixel

175 Good Quotes to Describe Yourself in Facebook Profile

7 June 2019

After completing the post that appeared just before this one, PG searched for a pungent quote about Facebook and found a site called Quotemaster.

Quotemaster has an article entitled 175 Good Quotes to Describe Yourself in Facebook Profile.

Here are a few:

I am just a girl looking for my heart.

Be good and shall always see good in everything and everyone and even in yourself.

I want to be your favorite hello and your hardest goodbye.

My daily routine: Get up, Be brilliant, Go back to bed, Repeat.

Behind every deleted facebook & whatsapp account there is untold story in my life..

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

I don’t describe myself as a Christian or religious, but i like to think that how i live my life is honest.

I love the confidence that makeup gives me.

When they say the sky’s the limit to me that’s really true – MICHAEL JACKSON.

I’m just human, I have weakness, I make mistakes and I experience sadness; But I learn from all these things to make me a better person.

I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I hurt people. But when I say sorry, I really mean it.

I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.

I’m a girl..Don’t touch my hair, face, phone, or boyfriend.

What others think of me is none of my business.

Keep day life will get tired of upsetting you.

You can let your smile change people, but don’t let people change your smile.

It’s not your job to like me. It’s mine.

I’m too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.

Be yourself. There is no one better.

Love yourself first, because that’s who you’ll be spending the rest of your life with.

Surround yourself with makeup not negativity.

Don’t judge me, you don’t know my story.

Be silent and let your success shout.

I take a lot of pride in being myself. I’m comfortable with who I am.

Link to the rest at Quotemaster

PG imagined a character in a book who constantly said things like this.

Overthrow the Prince of Facebook

7 June 2019

PG will note that TPV is not and has not been a political blog. PG would like to keep it that way.

PG understands that everything is supposed to be political, etc., but he believes such sentiments are, of themselves, political, and he manages to do a lot of things and have many satisfactory online and offline interactions with others that are simply not political.

While the growth of the internet and the many different ways of accessing it have produced many benefits for humanity, those benefits have been accompanied by some detriments. In PG’s unpresuming opinion, one of the largest is the internet’s ability to enhance and magnify the concerted actions of crazy people.

While at one time it might have been difficult for a single crazy person to connect with others who are crazy in the same way because of the rarity of that person’s particular variety of craziness, now, the internet allows almost anyone to join an online community of people who are exactly like her/him/etc. Cross-dressing differently-abled Lithuanian-American pediatricians can gather online and magnify their voices to fight the injustice that is part of their lives.

Online, everyone can be part of a hyphenated interest group.

PG’s bloviated opining was intended as a brief introduction to a column in today’s Wall Street Journal written by columnist Peggy Noonan, but it grew. [Trigger Warning: Ms. Noonan is a Republican, but not as Republican as a lot of people on the internet believe she should be.]

I’ll start with a personal experience and then try to expand into Republicans and big tech.

In the spring of 2016, Facebook came under pressure, stemming from leaks by its workers, over charges of systemic political bias. I was not especially interested: a Silicon Valley company that employs thousands of young people to make decisions that are often ideological will tilt left, and conservatives must factor that in, as they’re used to doing.

My concerns about Facebook had to do with its apparently monopolistic nature, slippery ethics and algorithmic threats to serious journalism.

Soon after, I received an email from Mark Zuckerberg’s office inviting me and other “conservative activists” to attend a meeting with him to discuss the bias charges in an off-the-record conversation. I responded that I was not an activist but a columnist, for the Journal, and would be happy to attend in that capacity and on the record. That didn’t go over too well with Mr. Zuckerberg’s office! I was swiftly told that wouldn’t do.

What I most remember is that they didn’t mention where his office is. There was an air of being summoned by the prince. You know where the prince lives. In the castle. Who doesn’t know exactly where Facebook is?

In February 2018 Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein of Wired wrote a deeply reported piece that mentioned the 2016 meeting. It was called so that the company could “make a show of apologizing for its sins.” A Facebook employee who helped plan it said part of its goal—they are clever at Facebook and knew their mark!—was to get the conservatives fighting with each other. “They made sure to have libertarians who wouldn’t want to regulate the platform and partisans who would.” Another goal was to leave attendees “bored to death” by a technical presentation after Mr. Zuckerberg spoke.

. . . .

I forgot about it until last summer, when Mr. Zuckerberg’s office wrote again. His problems were mounting. I was invited now, with an unspecified group of others, to “an off the record discussion over dinner at his home in Palo Alto.” They used that greasy greaseball language Silicon Valley uses: Mr. Zuckerberg is “focused on protecting” users and thinking about “the future and how best to serve the Facebook community.”

I ignored the invitation. They pressed. Their last note reached me at an irritated moment, so I wrote back a rocket, reminding him of the previous meeting and how it had been revealed to be a mischievous and highly political enacting of faux remorse. I suggested that though it was an honor to be asked to cross a continent for the privilege of giving him my time, thought and advice, I would not. I added that I was sorry to say he strikes me in his public, and now semiprivate, presentations as an imperious twerp.

For a second I actually hesitated: The imperious twerp runs the algorithms, controls the traffic, has all the dark powers! But I am an American, and one with her Irish up, so I hit send.

And I’m still here, at least at the moment, so I guess that’s OK.

. . . .

I once wrote the signal fact of Mr. Zuckerberg’s career is that he is supremely gifted in one area—monetizing technical ingenuity by marrying it to a canny sense of human weakness.

None of this is news. We just can’t manage to do anything about it.

. . . .

The New York Times this week had a breakthrough report . . . on how the tech giants are fighting back. They are “amassing an army of lobbyists.” Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple spent a combined $55 million in lobbying last year, about double what they spent in 2016. They “have intensified their efforts to lure lobbyists with strong connections to the White House, the regulatory agencies, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress.” Facebook hired Mrs. Pelosi’s former chief of staff. The speaker herself has received major campaign money from employees and political-action committees of all the tech giants.

. . . .

But the mood in America is anti-big-tech. Everyone knows they’re too powerful, too arrogant, loom too large in public life.

And something else: This whole new world of new technology was born in the 1970s and ’80s. We still think it’s new and we’re figuring it out, but we’re almost half a century into it and we can see what works and what doesn’t, what’s had good effects and hasn’t. It is time to move.

. . . .

Here’s what [Washington politicians] should be thinking: Break them up. Break them in two, in three; regulate them. Declare them to be what they’ve so successfully become: once a pleasure, now a utility.

It all depends on Congress, which has been too stupid to move in the past and is too stupid to move competently now. That’s what’s slowed those of us who want reform, knowing how badly they’d do it.

Yet now I find myself thinking: I don’t care. Do it incompetently, but do something.

. . . .

The Times quoted Republican Sen. Josh Hawley as saying “the dominance of big tech” is a “big problem.” They “may be more socially powerful than the trusts of the Roosevelt era, and yet they still operate like a black box.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

PG knows some indie authors have had good results from their social media book promotions and he applauds their skill, creativity and generosity for sharing their best online practices with other authors. In such cases, PG’s impression is that the authors are using the social media platforms rather than the other way around. Readers benefit by receiving information they would like to receive about books written by some of their favorite authors.

PG is probably some sort of social media snob, but he rarely uses social media to receive any information. (Because Crazy People) However, he’s a compulsive early adopter, so in days past, when he heard about a new social media platform, he signed up and checked it out. After 3-4 visits, he usually was bored by the content and quit checking in. (As a result, he has some four and five character social media user IDs that might be valuable if he could sell them.)

These days, PG uses social media strictly as an outbound communication device to provide information he thinks might be beneficial to people who like to receive information via this channel. To this end, he has a plug-in for TPV that automatically produces a row of colorful little icons below each post that should make it easy for any visitor to repost/forward any of the TPV posts to their own social media accounts and is happy to have anyone use them to do so. To avoid charges of false altruism, PG is also happy if some of these reposts result in more visitors to TPV.

Of all the major social media platforms, PG formerly signed on to Facebook the most frequently (1-2 times per month) to keep up with a handful of old friends/relatives who would occasionally post news and photos there. However, for the reasons Ms. Noonan describes – Facebook’s breaching of privacy and ethical boundaries – PG closed his account several months ago.

A Loss for Words No More: Caption Any Photo Will Fill in Your Blank Slates

29 May 2019
Comments Off on A Loss for Words No More: Caption Any Photo Will Fill in Your Blank Slates

From Social Media Week:

I’m sure that when they were first composing captions for their Student Government Association at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Ja’Bre Jennings and Juwon Nicholson couldn’t have imagined they’d one day build a business around the snappy words they’d add to photos. But only a few years later, they’re garnering good buzz for their app, Caption Any Photo , designed to share their talents with the masses.

Caption Any Photo was born in an MBA class Jennings was taking; he developed the app as part of an assignment. But once the project was completed, he realized the idea had legs. Calling upon his friend and business partner, they did market research with college students, touring the East Coast during homecoming season to ask attendees how they felt about the app, if they’d use it, and how to improve it.

What resulted from this unconventional market research was an app that can help caption photos in categories like Homecoming, Girls’ Night Out, Selfies, Mardi Gras, and many more. At present, a combination of user submissions and captions developed with machine learning and data analytics has created a database of over 35,000 captions. But they have their sights set higher than their initial college student market; they’re now hoping to assist solopreneurs and small businesses increase engagement in ways that affect their bottom line.

“A lot of businesses were having a lack of engagement due to not knowing what to post. Once you find the photo, we give you the quote and caption to actually let you post to social media and increase engagement,” Jennings said to Blavity. These captions, when deployed thoughtfully, can drive people to needed products or services – something Jennings and Nicholson learned when doing social media work previously for the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. There, they realized that captions are more than just a way to make friends laugh or express yourself; they could be key to driving users toward much needed but occasionally stigmatized services.

Link to the rest at Social Media Week

You can find Caption Any Photo in Apple’s IOS App Store.

Although PG may have overlooked it in the Caption Any Photo website, but it appears that, at present, you can’t match images and captions on a computer (although PG understands most social media pros (not the celebrities or other clients they work for) don’t create most of the image/caption combinations they use on Pinterest, Instagram, etc., on their phones because it’s faster to do it on a computer), so he created a faux Instagram post by combining an image with a Caption Any Photo caption he got on his phone.


Fact-Checking Can’t Do Much When People’s “Dueling Facts” Are Driven by Values Instead of Knowledge

11 May 2019

As PG has mentioned more than one time before, The Passive Voice is not a blog about politics and PG intends to keep it that way. There is no shortage of online locations that will provide political commentary in all shades from the darkest Blue to the brightest Red to some other color PG has not yet learned about.

However, TPV is about writing and a great deal of writing these days is either comprised of or about misinformation. Public or private debate about the meaning or impact of facts that each side agrees are real is, to PG’s way of thinking, a useful exercise.

However, debate in which each side has a different set of facts about the same events may not be so useful. As Daniel Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Yesterday’s post on this issue generated a lot of detailed and, at least for PG, interesting comments.

As to the connection of the following article to writing, PG suggests that the Internet has vastly increased both reading and writing by a far wider range of individuals than has been the case in times before the Internet.

A tweet is not a novel, but it definitely is writing with its own style and impact.

Twitter reports that more than 6,000 tweets are sent each second. Each tweet may be read by no one or thousands of people (sometimes more). In Q1 2019, Twitter reported that an average of 134 million people used Twitter every day and could see Twitter ads.

In its financial reporting, Twitter reports Average monetizable DAU (mDAU), Monetizable Daily Active Usage or Users. Monetizable means users who access via means that permit Twitter to show them advertisements. Many more tweets are read by people who see the tweet copied to a website or email, but are not included in mDAU.

It seems that almost everyone is a news reporter in some way and, when it is impossible for an individual to know everything that is happening in the worlds, real and virtual, she/he has to choose who and what to consume.

Because it is impossible to read everything, of necessity, everyone can and does curate their information by eliminating the overwhelming majority of the words floating around the Internet, regardless of whether those words describe true things or not. In some places online, white is white. Elsewhere, white is black. It’s all about the words.

In former times, large cities supported multiple daily newspapers that were well-known for their political leanings. In Chicago, The Chicago Tribune was known for its conservative views. In New York, The New York Times was reliably liberal. Someone who wanted to examine what would likely be a balanced view on a topic might read both newspapers to understand the arguments of each side.

There were other publications which promoted more extreme views on the left or right (or some other side) of such issues, but a great many people believed, rightly or wrongly, that such publications could not be trusted to report facts accurately or base their opinions on facts at all.

From The Nieman Lab:

The Mueller report was supposed to settle, once and for all, the controversy over whether the Trump team colluded with Russians or obstructed justice. Clearly, it has not. Reactions to the report have ranged from “Total exoneration!” to “Impeach now!”

Shouldn’t nearly 700 hundred pages of details, after almost two years of waiting, have helped the nation to achieve a consensus over what happened? Well, no. As Goethe said in the early 1800s, “Each sees what is present in their heart.”

Since 2013 — long before Donald Trump was even a candidate — we have been studying the “dueling facts” phenomenon: the tendency for Red and Blue America to perceive reality in starkly different ways. Based on that work, we expected the report to settle…next to nothing.

The conflicting factual assertions that have emerged since the report’s release highlight just how easy it is for citizens to believe what they want — regardless of what Robert Mueller, William Barr or anyone else has to say about it.

Our research has led us to several conclusions about the future of political discourse in the U.S. The first is that dueling fact perceptions are rampant, and they are more entrenched than most people realize. Some examples of this include conflicting perceptions about the existence of climate change, the strength of the economy, the consequences of racism, the origins of sexual orientation, the utility of minimum wage increases or gun control, the crime rate and the safety of vaccines.

This has serious implications for American democracy. As political scientists, we wonder: How can a community decide the direction they should go if they can’t agree on where they are? Can people holding dueling facts be brought into some semblance of consensus?

To figure that out, it’s important to determine where such divergent beliefs come from in the first place. This is the perspective we began with: If dueling fact perceptions are driven by misinformation from politicians and pundits, then one would expect things to get better by making sure that people have access to correct information — via fact-checking by news organizations, for example.

We envisioned the dueling facts phenomenon as being primarily tribal, driven by cheerleading on each side for their partisan “teams.” We assumed, like most other scholars, that individuals are simply led astray by their team’s coaches (party leaders), star players (media pundits), or fellow fans (social media feeds).

But it turns out that the roots of such divergent views go much deeper. We found that voters see the world in ways that reinforce their values and identities — irrespective of whether they have ever watched Fox News or MSNBC and regardless of whether they have a Facebook account.

For example, according to our data from five years of national surveys from 2013 to 2017, the most important predictor of whether a person views racism as highly prevalent and influential is not her partisan identification. It is not her general ideological outlook. It is not the amount or type of media that she consumes. It isn’t even her own race.

It is the degree to which she prioritizes compassion as a public virtue, relative to other things like rugged individualism.

Values not only shape what people see, but they also structure what people look for in the first place. We call this “intuitive epistemology.”

Those who care about oppression look for oppression — so they find it.

Those who care about security look for threats to it — and they find them.

In other words, people do not end up with the same answers because they do not begin with the same questions.

For example, the perception that vaccines cause autism — against all available empirical evidence — is now shared equally by Democrats and Republicans. Partisanship can’t account for that dueling fact perception. But when we looked at the role of core values and their associated questions, we found the strongest predictor.

If someone we surveyed ranked this question highly — Does it appear that people are committing indecent acts or degrading something sacred? — they were by far the most likely to believe that vaccines are dangerous. Partisan identity had no relationship at all with those beliefs. Because the starting points for different groups of citizens are deeply polarized, so are their ending points. And the starting points are often values rather than parties.

The stronger those commitments to their values are, the stronger the effects. Those with extreme value commitments are much more certainthan others that their perceptions are correct.

Perhaps the most disappointing finding from our studies — at least from our point of view — is that there are no known fixes to this problem.

Fact-checking tends to fall flat. The voters who need to hear corrections rarely read fact-checks. And for those who might stumble across them, reports from distant and distrusted experts are no match for closely held values and defining identities.

Link to the rest at The Nieman Lab

Your Google Data Is Getting the Auto-Delete Tool It Always Needed

2 May 2019

From Fast Company:

While Google has spent years insisting that users are in control of their privacy, it’s never given users a way to wipe old data automatically. If you wanted to keep Google from building up a lifetime of personal information without opting out of personalized features entirely, you had to remind yourself to delete the data on your own.

That’s about to change: Google will soon introduce an auto-delete function to its account activity page. This will give users the option to delete old searches, location history, and other activity, either after three months or a year and a half. Google says the auto-delete feature will roll out “in the coming weeks.”

Google’s tendency to save everything indefinitely was the subject of a recent New York Times investigation, which found that police are using Google’s location database to trawl for potential crime suspects, and sometimes ensnaring innocent people in the process. A wave of stories on how to disable Google’s location tracking followed.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

PG says some people have been regularly creating new Google accounts while abandoning old ones due to Google’s collect-and-hold-everything practices.

PG regularly uses several Google accounts for different purposes as a simpler method of just about accomplishing the same thing.

If you would like to do something like this or just start a new Google (or Facebook, etc.) account every few weeks, PG recommends getting a password manager like LastPass, 1Password or Dashlane to keep track of multiple account names and passwords. The last time PG checked each of these organizations offered a completely useful free version that you could upgrade into a paid account with more bells and whistles.


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