Peddle To The Meddle


Welcome to 2020, either an election year or a re-election year.

I play Scrabble on my phone.  A lot of Scrabble.  The app includes advertising.  For a while, I was endlessly bombarded by ads for plus-sized female clothing.  Humorous and easy to ignore.  Of late, 3/4 of the ads I get are for an app called News Break.  It purports to show local Tucson news. Its pitch is accompanied by lurid photos, from car accidents to mug shots of scary brown people and meth-heads. Most of the images are identifiably NOT from Tucson.

I have not downloaded the app, nor do I intend to, based on the way it is promoted. I can see it appealing to the very sort of under-informed and frightened American who brought us to our current political crossroads. I can also see it as a very effective platform for election meddling.  First you hook the viewer with sensationalist, tabloid stories about scary things, and then you feed them sensationalist scary stories about the politicians you don’t want them to support.  This is what RT, the propaganda channel of Russia did in 2016.  I saw them reposted many many times on Facebook by Bernie supporters.  Always there was dirt on Hillary, usually it was fabricated.

So I wondered about News Break.  Who owns it?  Do they have an agenda? The company is wholly funded by three entities, all from China. Hmmm. It is the number one downloaded news app on Android phones, with several million regular viewers. Enough to swing an election?  I suppose that depends on who reads it and whether they are capable of critical thinking. It will be interesting to see what kind of stories they publish as election season heats up.

Remember the other day when Trump was ranting on about impeachment and said that not only should Ukraine investigate the Bidens, but China should too?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.