The Bible of Fake News. Thoughts on “Trust me, I’m Lying”.


This book left me humbled. I thought I was on top of my media game and was able to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I was wrong.

I knew the situation was bad, I even quit following “the news” 3 years ago because I thought it misrepresented reality to a larger degree than it represented it (and for the sake of my own my wellbeing), but Ryan Holidays confessions from his career as a media manipulator paints a darker picture than I could ever imagine.

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📝 The constraints of blogging create artificial content (shamings, planted stories, sensational speculations etc..), which is made real and impacts the outcome of real world events.

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📝 Trading up the chain: How to turn nothing into something! Send stories to small traffic hungry blogs with non-existing editorial standards and have them being picked up by bigger and bigger outlets until your fabricated story is national news.

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📝 “The world is boring, but the news is exciting. It’s a paradox of modern life.”

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📝 Top stories all polarize people. Threaten peoples belonging, belief or behavior and you will have a hit that will spreads!

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📝 The economics of the web has made it impossible to portray the complex situation of Detroit accurately. Photographs of abandoned houses was shared like crazy while photos of the same houses with it’s despairing residents included was “too sad to share”, creating less incentive for media. Simple narratives > complex realities.

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📝 On User Engagement: Provoke a person enough for them to be motivated to leave a comment. In the process of registering to be eligible to comment, a user has to go through up to 10 pageviews. That’s a lot of ads (and ad revenue!).

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Sensational and fearmongering headlines has always made me sad. Understanding the structure and constraints of click-based media is essential. These structure explains almost everything they do. It’s the nature of the system.

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4/5

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Thoughts on: ‘Everybody Lies – Big Data, New Day and What the Internet Can Tell Us Who We Really Are’

The premise of this book is that big data is destined to have a big impact on social sciences. By analyzing millions of peoples behavior online we get access to data is not just new, it’s honest. It shows things previously hidden and private.

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The research presented in this book is based on Google searches and PornHub data. What’s so special about these sources and compared to, let’s say, Facebook or survey data? People tend to lie to surveys and on Facebook to look good. This is called social desirability bias. But in our google searches on the other hand we tend to tell the truth about or worries, insecurities and hidden desires.

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📝 “Don’t trust what people tell you, trust what people do.”

People say they want to listen to the news in the morning, but what they really want to do is watch midget porn.

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📝 Newspaper owners don’t try to indoctrinate people with their political views as much as they just give people what they want. The political climate in the area dictates what kind of paper is dominating. No conspiracy, just capitalism!

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📝 “Great body, great sex, great blowjob” may be the most viewed pornographic clip on the internet. The Gangnam style of porn! Not as shared on social media, though. 😎

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📝 Horrible searches in not likely to lead to horrible actions.

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📝 Before 2010 women was looking to get a smaller butts, but in 2010 the trend reversed. Now searches are about getting a bigger butt. Thanks, Kim Kardashian…

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📝 Social media post: my husband is amazing!

Google search: is my husband gay?

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What I really loved about the book is the many the examples of counterintuitive conclusions derived from people searches. Also the possibility “big data” is presenting in teaching us more about the human psyche, especially on topics that are so sensitive we tend to lie about them (even in anonymous surveys).

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4/5

Photo credit: @relentlessreader

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