A persistent barrage of information is not the best method for getting through to someone with a different point of view.
- When you want someone to see things differently and to abandon their previous stance, sometimes persistence is not key.
- "Too often we think change is about pushing," says Jonah Berger, author of the book The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone's Mind, and a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. "We think if we just come up with one more way people will eventually come around."
- Through speaking with people who have successfully changed minds of others, Berger identified five common barriers and created the REDUCE framework for finding the catalysts needed to break through: reactants, endowment, distance, uncertainty, and corroborating evidence.
New documents confirm that the government agency—one of many—has been using a tracking company.
- Documents reveal that the Secret Service used Locate X as part of a social media tracking package.
- The service "allows investigators to draw a digital fence around an address or area, pinpoint mobile devices that were within that area, and see where else those devices have traveled, going back months."
- Other agencies that have used this service include the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Young players walk through the city centre of Hanover while holding their smartphones and playing "Pokemon Go" on July 15, 2016 in Hanover, Germany.
Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images<p>Besides, the Secret Service is not Babel Street's only client. Others <a href="https://www.inputmag.com/tech/cbp-ice-the-secret-service-are-reportedly-locate-x-to-track-people-through-their-apps" target="_blank">include</a> the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and others.</p><p>The Secret Service has <a href="https://www.protocol.com/government-buying-location-data" target="_blank">apparently used</a> Locate X to identify credit card skimming thieves. <a href="https://www.protocol.com/government-buying-location-data" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">According to</a> former employees of location-based companies that provide data to Babel Street, "the sale of personal location data from commercial firms to the government is more widespread and has been going on longer than previously known."</p><p>In 1985, Neil Postman wrote about Orwell's "1984" prophecy coming and going. In "Amusing Ourselves to Death," the cultural critic noted that Orwell got a lot right, but with "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley may have been the real winner when it comes to understanding the future. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture."</p><p>There's no need for a secret government plot to microchip us. Tech companies sold chips that we willingly bought; governments are simply purchasing the rights to locate them. That's not a conspiracy. We're staring straight into the truth every single day. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Sharing QAnon disinformation is harming the children devotees purport to help.
- The conspiracy theory, QAnon, is doing more harm than good in the battle to end child trafficking.
- Foster youth expert, Regan Williams, says there are 25-29k missing children every year, not 800k, as marketed by QAnon.
- Real ways to help abused children include donating to nonprofits, taking educational workshops, and becoming a foster parent.
Real ways you can help stop child trafficking<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="21fc2dc85391501eec28c4bf46d7db15"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AXL0q9jNZGU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Williams is the founder and CEO of <a href="http://www.seenandheard.org/" target="_blank">Seen and Heard</a>, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that helps foster youth develop character through the performing arts. She's been involved with foster youth for years; I <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/child-sex-trafficking" target="_self">wrote about her work</a> in child trafficking just over a year ago. Tragically, since that time, the situation for these children has only gotten worse, in large part because of QAnon.</p><p>Williams says child trafficking is an easy cause to rally people together. Fear is also a powerful unifying force, one that QAnon believers are already primed for via the news they consume. Almost every parent cares about their children, making them the ideal target to solidify groups. </p><p>The real problem, she says, is that the youth she works with are falling for these conspiracy theories. Trauma is a particularly powerful tool for indoctrination. If you're a teenager that's been abducted or abused, your trust level is already extremely low. Then you read about a global cabal of powerful men (and a few women) secretly abusing children, and the narrative seems ready-made for your personal history.</p><p>When Williams tried to "lovingly and kindly correct" the youth she was working with after learning about the Wayfair conspiracy, the girls' response was, "well, who owns the media?" </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"She goes from this small little thing to a QAnon talking point. I've been thinking about why she would believe such a preposterous idea—and there are others; it's not just one student, and they're in in deep. I think that when something horrific happens to you as a child, it's a lot easier to distance yourself from the immediate reality that it was an uncle or a parent or a sibling that hurt you. By detaching from that immediate person, they project it onto Bill Gates or Chrissy Teigen. Then it's not so personal, it's global." </p>
A man wear a shirt with the words Q Anon as he attends a rally for President Donald Trump at the Make America Great Again Rally being held in the Florida State Fair Grounds Expo Hall on July 31, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images<p>As Williams mentions, there are over 30,000 kids in foster care in the Los Angeles area alone. It's easy to fall through the cracks. The systems in place aren't perfect; they're certainly underfunded. When you're in a system trying to support you yet isn't capable of doing so, viewing the world as imperfect, and even harmful, becomes the lens through which you see reality. Again, this makes for a perfect indoctrination tool.</p><p>One popular QAnon talking point is that 800,000 children are missing. As Williams says, child trafficking experts "don't buy this for a minute." The number makes for a good meme but a poor representation of the problem. </p><p>To source better data, Williams turns to the <a href="https://www.missingkids.org/" target="_blank">National Center for Missing and Exploited Children</a> (NCMEC) and the <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ncic" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">National Crime Information Center</a> (NCIC). An important factor when reading data: if a teacher <em>and</em> a caregiver report a missing child to NCIC, that counts as two children, not one, which accounts for some of the fluctuations in numbers. In total, between 25,000 and 29,000 kids go missing every year. Importantly, 94 percent of those children are recovered within four to six weeks. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They're not documenting the recovery rate. It's not like these numbers are perpetually hanging out there. So this 800,000 number is just ludicrous." </p><p>Williams compares what's going on to Black Lives Matter. Blacking out your Instagram profile picture is performative. It signals that you actually care, which is great, but if you're not supporting Black-owned businesses, for example, there are no teeth to your activism. </p><p>Of course, blacking out your profile doesn't cause the real-world harm the QAnon virus does. Sharing misinformation is ultimately harmful to the children in need of help. Williams offers the resources below—ranging from donations to nonprofits to educational trainings to becoming a foster parent—for people that actually want to do something to help victims of sexual and physical abuse. They might not make a great Twitter meme, but in the actual world, this support makes all the difference. </p><p><strong>To report abuse/neglect, call the child abuse hotline: 800.540.4000 (LA county) / 800.422.4453 (National)</strong></p><ul><li>Support anti-trafficking organizations by donating to <a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="http://savinginnocence.org/" target="_blank">Saving Innocence</a>, which runs the continuum of care from rescue to recovery, <a href="http://gozoe.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Zoe</a>, a reputable faith-based organization, and <a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="https://withtwowings.org/" target="_blank">Two Wings</a>, which helps to rehabilitate female survivors</li><li><a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="http://www.nolabrantleyspeaks.org/" target="_blank">Nola Brantley</a> offers in-person and online trainings to help combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children</li><li><a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="http://instagram.com/imrebeccabender" target="_blank">Rebecca Bender</a> is a trafficking survivor that runs "Myth Busters," which combats conspiracy theory disinformation</li><li>The <a href="https://www.instagram.com/missingkids/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">National Center</a> of Missing and Exploited Children</li><li>Operation <a href="https://www.instagram.com/ourrescue/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Underground Railroad </a></li><li><a href="https://www.instagram.com/defendinnocence/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Defend Innocence</a> offers tips for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe</li></ul><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Bigger brands can afford to take their ad budgets elsewhere – less so with direct-to-consumer brands.
- Over 500 companies, well-known consumer brands among them, have announced that they will not advertise on Facebook-owned media properties until the company curbs hate speech on its platform.
- Facebook is likely to sustain minimal damages at the hands of the #StopHateForProfit movement, because the lion's share of potential participants depend on the platform for business, and it isn't mutual.
- Even if all 100 of Facebook's top ad buyers were to suddenly freeze their campaigns and participate in the boycott, that would still only represent 6% of the platform's income.
Who has joined? (And who hasn't?)<p>Over <a href="https://www.stophateforprofit.org/participating-businesses" target="_blank">500 companies</a>, including LEGO, Adidas, Unilever, Dunkin, Walgreens, Patagonia, and Target have announced that they will not work with Facebook until the company takes action to address misinformation and hate speech on its platform. While this might sound impressive on the surface, a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/01/tech/facebook-top-advertisers/index.html" target="_blank">CNN analysis</a> of Facebook's top advertisers found that the overwhelming majority of Facebook's 100 biggest ad spenders have yet to join the movement. Of the top 25 ad spenders, accounting for almost 3 percent of Facebook's revenue in 2019, only three have joined the boycott. These are Microsoft, Starbucks, and pharma giant Pfizer.</p><p>Of course, despite all the negative press and relatively high volume of companies joining the boycott, Facebook's ad revenues are still a juggernaut. Looking at data from the past few years, and projecting where things are headed, as a recent <a href="https://commonthreadco.com/blogs/coachs-corner/ecommerce-trends-future" target="_blank">direct-to-consumer e-commerce report</a> from Common Thread Collective points out, demand for paid media on the platform is unlikely to wane any time soon.</p>
The socially dependent long tail<p>Sure, larger consumer brands are attracted to Facebook's audience targeting capabilities, massive reach, and measurable results. But for household names, running campaigns on Facebook is only one cog in a much larger machine.</p><p>Consider Levi Strauss, a classic consumer brand, as an example. They're participants in the #StopHateForProfit boycott, but this company advertises with any number of media types, including banner ads on content websites, TV spots, and posters in subway cars. What's more, their ad campaigns are generally more about branding than direct sales. </p><p>Levi's manages sales channels for both wholesale and retail e-commerce and distributes goods via scores of retail partners, and they have some 15,000 franchised Levi's stores. When a brand like this stops advertising on Facebook, their brand awareness and sales are unlikely to take a significant hit, largely due to the diversity of their promotional and sales channel mix.</p>
How big a deal is DTC?<p>Overall, online sales continue to grow, with <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/379112/e-commerce-share-of-retail-sales-in-us/" target="_blank">nearly 14 percent</a> of U.S. total retail sales estimated to come from e-commerce channels by 2021.</p><p>While DTC brands occupy only <a href="https://www.emarketer.com/newsroom/index.php/us-direct-to-consumer-ecommerce-sales-will-rise-to-nearly-18-billion-in-2020/" target="_blank">2.6 percent of the U.S. e-commerce market</a>, this year will likely see a 24 percent increase, making these brands a force to be reckoned with. </p>
Facebook’s response<p>It may seem like Facebook is too big of a force to be hurt by this situation. An estimated <a href="https://www.emarketer.com/content/uptick-us-adults-social-media-usage-will-likely-normalize-post-pandemic?ecid=NL1001" target="_blank">51 percent of U.S. adults</a> are using social media at higher rates during the pandemic, generating massive growth for Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram.</p><p>Facebook collected more than <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/29/business/dealbook/facebook-boycott-ads.html#:~:text=A%20boycott%20of%20advertisers%20on,Who's%20doing%20what." target="_blank">$17 billion in advertising revenue</a> in the first quarter of 2020. Losing big brand ad spending is painful, but because the bulk of the company's ad revenues come from DTC brands and other smaller companies that rely heavily on the platform to drive direct e-commerce sales, it's unlikely that Zuckerberg will feel the need to make any meaningful changes.</p><p>Facebook said in a statement that they are taking steps to "keep hate off of our platform" and added, "We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement."</p><p>Facebook is also rolling out modifications to curb the spread of misinformation and hate speech, but the groups spearheading the boycott movement don't think that this is enough.</p><p>"This isn't over. We will continue to expand the boycott until Facebook takes our demands seriously," Jessica J. González, the co-CEO of Free Press <a href="https://www.freepress.net/news/press-releases/stophateforprofit-sees-no-commitment-action-meeting-between-campaign-leaders" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "We won't be distracted by Facebook's spin today or any day. Mark, Sheryl and their colleagues have much work to do to make Facebook a better place for everyone, and they need to get it done now."</p><p>The problem, however, is arguably far harder to address than many of those protesting Facebook would acknowledge. The idea of user-generated content as a model for mass media was all well and good two decades ago, when it was fresh, but once it's been weaponized by foreign instigators, Boogaloo groups and neo-Nazis, you can't really put the cat back into the bag.</p>
Closing remarks<p>Ultimately, Facebook knows that consumer brands need it more than it needs them. While the mounting pressure is forcing Facebook to expand its brand safety ad policies and take proactive steps to limit the spread of hate and harmful content, at the end of the day, the giant and its shareholders won't likely suffer a major blow to revenue. Managing and mitigating the Wild West of social media remains a dubious mission at best. </p>
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>