Headline, January 04 2022/ ONLINE : ''' '' CUTE INSIDIOUS CATS '' '''

ONLINE : ''' '' CUTE


ON OCT 2 - NEW TANG DYNASTY TELEVISION, a station linked to the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, posted a Facebook video of a woman saving a baby shark stranded on a shore.

Next to the video was a link to subscribe to The Epoch Times, a newspaper that is tied to Falun Gong and that spreads anti-China and right-wing conspiracies. The post collected 33,000 likes, comments and shares.

The website of Dr. Jospeph Mercola, an osteopathic physician who researchers say is a chief spreader of coronavirus misinformation online, regularly posts about cute animals that generate tens or even hundreds of thousands of interactions on Facebook.

The stories include ''Kitten and Chick Nap So Sweetly Together'' and ''Why Orange Cats May Be Different From Other Cats,'' written by Dr. Karen Becker, a veterinarian.

And Western Journal, a right-wing publication that has published unproved claims about the benefits of using hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19, and spread falsehoods about fraud in the 2020 presidential election, owns Liftable Animals posts stories from Western Journal's main website alongside stories about golden retrievers and giraffes.

Videos and GIFs of cute animals - usually cats, have gone viral online for almost as long as the Internet has been around. Many of the animals became famous : Keyboard Cat, Grumpy Cat, Lil Bub and Nyan Cat, just to name a few.

NOW, it is becoming increasingly clear how widely the old-school internet trick is being used by people and organizations peddling false information online, misinformation researchers say.

The posts with the animals do not directly spread false information. But they can draw a huge audience that can be redirected to a publication or a site spreading false information about election fraud, unproven coronavirus cures and other baseless conspiracy theories entirely unrelated to the videos.

Sometimes, following a feed of cute animals on Facebook unknowingly signs users up as subscribers to misleading posts from the same publisher.

Melissa Ryan, the chief executive of Card Strategies, a consulting firm that researches disinformation, said this kind of ''engagement bait'' helped misinformation actors generate clicks on their pages, which can make them more prominent in users' feeds in the future.

That prominence can drive a broader audience to content with inaccurate or misleading information, she said.

''The strategy works because the platforms continue to reward engagement over everything else,'' Ms. Ryan said, ''even when that engagement comes from'' publications that also publish false or misleading content.

Perhaps no organization deploys the tactic as forcefully as Epoch Media, parent company of The Epoch Times. Epoch Media has published videos of cute animals in 12,062 posts on its 103 facebook pages in the past year, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

Those posts, which include links to other Epoch Media websites, racked up nearly four billion views. Trending World, one of Epoch's facebook pages, was the 15th most popular page on the platform in the United States from July to September.

One video, posted last month by The Epoch Times'sTaiwan page, shows a close-up of a golden retriever while a woman tries in vain to pry an apple from its mouth.

It has over 20,000 likes, shares and comments on Facebook. Another post, on Trending World'sFacebook page, features a seal grinning widely with a family posing for a picture at a Sea World resort. The video has 12 million views.

Epoch Media did not respond to a request for comment.

''Dr.Becker is a veterinarian, her articles are about pets,'' said an email from Dr. Mercola's public relations team. ''We reject any New York Times accusations of misleading any visitors, but are not surprised by it.''

The viral animal videos often come from places like Jukin Media and Viral Hog. The companies identify extremely shareable videos and reach licensing deals with the people who made them.

After securing the rights to the videos, Jukin Media and ViralHog license the clips to other media companies, giving a cut of the profits to the original creator.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Online World, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Davey Alba and Jacob Silver.

With respectful dedication to the Online World, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society :  wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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