Shutting Down the Signal


I’ve seen this article over at Forbes pop up quite a bit, about how a Canadian hacker can do a better job of finding gun sales online than Facebook can. There’s a lot of things I believe that might seem conspiratorial, like the fact that anti-gun groups, namely Bloomberg’s groups, are feeding the media these stories. But that’s really become standard practice, so the surprise would be if they weren’t doing it. Maybe this one was spoon fed, but maybe it wasn’t. But the strategy at work here is pretty smart (from their point of view).

Having the machines look for patterns is going to create a lot of false positives, because machines kind of suck at this. If that wasn’t the case, you’d never have to retrieve anything out of your spam folder, and in some ways that’s an easier problem if you have enough samples to evaluate.

I think the anti-gun folks know this, and that the real target are the false positives that will be generated. Social Media is a key place we promote the shooting culture, share information, and self-organize. Facebook is now my number two referrer (behind SayUncle). The false positives are going to occur most often when people are talking about guns, sharing pictures, and spreading the culture. If people can be made to fear sharing that information, because of their accounts keep getting suspended when they do, it would hobble us as a social movement pretty severely.

It’s not just Bloomberg’s money I fear, but the skills the man has that got him that money. I doubt it’s lost on the leaders of his gun control organizations that the spread of the culture is a real problem for them finding success going forward.

6 thoughts on “Shutting Down the Signal”

  1. I’ve never understood facebook as a gunnie place given all the forums and gun-related websites that exist. Facebook is there to destroy all other media sharing platforms (it’s in their business plan) so I see no reason why we should be concerned that Facebook is going to push away gun people.

    I understand “spreading the culture” might include FB, but doubt they can contain it all. Even if FB went 100% SJW and decided to ban anyone gun-friendly, those disposed to look outside the bubble will quickly find us.

    Maybe it’s because I have never used FB for more than 30 minutes (total in my whole life), but I just don’t get it. And I am not some old geezer, either.

    1. Easy, because you may not use it means nothing. The facts are a large segment of the population does and thus Facebook has influence over them.

      Know where most of the gun bloggers spend most of their time currently, FB. There’s a few that remain active on their sites, but over all, the traffic all comes from FB anyway.

      It’s not a matter of just wanting those who are willing to look out side the bubble but also getting people to realize it is a bubble.

      Listen to me carefully, You lose the culture war, you lose the whole damn thing. It’s a BFD, and you better have a solid plan for alternative methods of influence other than, “They’ll come to us”.

      1. Yes But we are winning the culture war. Every mass shooting reinforces the message that you need a gun. Every riot or natural disaster does that also.

        Gun control works as a message when people trust the government to protect them That is not so true these days.

        The fact that most states are shall issue and permit less carry is expanding indicates that we are winning the culture war. That increase in women getting guns also indicates that. The demand for gun classes is another sign.

        We need to expand our message in minority neighborhoods. that is the next frontier Colin is trying to get that message out.

        The fight has to be taken to the high density urban areas NY , MD, NJ, Connecticut and CA.

  2. I agree that gun people afraid to share on social media may reduce the influence of pro gun on culture. But I think you are over thinking this. I do not use social media except to argue the pro gun side. I do not share personal information for privacy reasons.

    However the underlying cultural signal getting out is with every mass shooting or terrorist incident that people need to protect themselves and be prepared . That is the underlying message that Americans are getting and responding to. The up shot n gun sales is not just fear of gun grabbers. It is a real fear that a gun is necessary.
    Reality interferes with Bloomberg’s cultural message . Pro control message work better when people have no rational fear of world events coming to the home. That is when people think the government can protect them We have too many examples lately of the government inability to address threats of crime, riots. mass shooters and local terrorists

  3. Respectfully, RAH, we may be winning the culture war but if the primary social-networking sites restrict or prohibit the subject matter then our voices are muted to millions who may never look outside those sites for information. As it is right now, people on FB stand a fair chance at seeing some pro-gun post through their friendships. And each one of those positive posts is an opportunity to sway someone’s opinion.

    FB recently shut down 90% of the gun related groups & pages, then put some of them back after reviewing each one. Just a mention of selling a gun (“Will you take $600 for it?”) was sufficient. At least one page owner suspects his page was killed by an anti-gun troll making several such posts around 0200AM. Should FB decide to tighten the rules further (e.g. prohibit discussions of value, availability for sale or even actual use) then they will have effectively silenced us.

    Twitter just recently pulled down pro-gun tweets and has long been accused of suppressing opinions that are conservative. Combine FB and Twitter acting as censors and you’ve shut down two of the most popular opinion generating sites on the web.

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