You may have seen your posts, tweets, and pins widely liked and shared. Social media has become a very useful tool for many individuals and groups to get their message out
In days of old, getting the message out to a large audience would have meant spending large sums of money for TV, radio, magazine and newspaper advertising. The financial cost of such messaging is beyond grassroots groups, but social media costs next to nothing to reach millions of people and can be more effective.
While the fossil fuel corporations have long set up their own social media accounts with FaceBook pages and Twitter accounts their posts, tweets etc are easily recognizable as corporate canned PR. Response to such canned PR tends to attract more detractors and negative rebuttals as opposed to positive cheerleading support.
This is a problem for the fossil fuel corporations struggling against public opposition to their operations. To make their engagement in the social media world more “real”, fossil fuel corporations have engaged IBM’s super computer “Watson” to analyze and craft messaging. According to a Forbes Magazine article, “Oil Company Taps IBM’s Watson To Fend Off Anti-Fracking Attacks On Twitter”:
In order to talk to the anti-frackers over Twitter, the oil company needed to understand what language they were speaking. Welch says that when his team set out to monitor the Twitter rantings of anti-fracking groups, they knew that they wanted to find the most creative and inspirational tweets. “What we were looking for is what gets people excited, what message is fueling the fire of the campaigns,” says Welch. To that end, IBM gave Watson a dictionary of keywords to start with, things like fracking, tarsands, poison, water, pollution, evil, shale, gas, fracked. Then they fed Watson 40 million retweets to ponder. They use retweets because an original tweet must have contained something resonant if it inspired someone else to retweet it.
The success of using Watson in this manner is not so much in “getting the message out”, but rather in acting as an early warning system. As an example, Watson detected traction with posts of cattle being tainted from grazing on land polluted by frack liquid. Per the Forbes article, the contaminated cattle controversy quickly died out after a fossil fuel corporation hired a UC Berkeley professor to quickly churn out a “study” disputing the assertion.
Despite the ‘study’ and resulting mainstream media reporting, articles about fracked cattle are still available to anyone who can do a simple Google search for “contaminated cattle fracking” will find numerous links such as:
- Fracking Our Food Supply
- Fracking vs. food: N.Y.’s choice
- How Fracking Affects Food
- NYC Chefs: Don’t Frack With Our Ingredients
- Livestock falling ill in fracking regions
As a side note, the hiring of professors or scientists to produce frack friendly “studies” resulted in coining of the terms “Frackademia” and “Frackademics”. When frack friendly studies are released, the first question asked is “who funded the study”.
Will similar terms be coined like “FrackedFace”, “Fracktwit”, or “PinterFracked”?
Disclaimer: This blog post is a #RPP (Real Person Post).
© 2015 by Dory Hippauf