What is common between Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg?

What is common between Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg?  Both are two sides of the same coin.  Both are active in brainwashing and manipulation of the minds.

Following the defeat in the Presidential elections, and Trump’s hate speech, Trump supporters marched to the Capitol Hill. The shocking events that followed cast the biggest shadow in the history of the United States. The emotionally stirred hooligans took over the famous ‘shrine of democracy.

Capitol Hill Incidents

The incidents at Capitol Hill shocked the world. Images of the mayhem at the seat of democracy flashed over the televisions globally, signalling a totally different view of the Government in the United States. Thankfully the so-called “coup” was brief. But it brought home the fact that how brainwashing can manipulate the behavior of people.

The 45th incumbent at the White House did not exactly cover himself in glory with these incidents. Though he denied any direct or indirect participation in the matter the office of the President of the United States faced one of its lowest moments in the history.

The build up to the siege on the Capitol Hill started in the last of December 2020 with the US President Donald Trump actively using the social network to whip up the passions of his Republican voters. Trump’s posts brazenly shouted about the voter suppression and the alleged manipulations on the election day.

The advocacy groups resonated with these allegations of conspiracy theories, brainwashed by the relentless tweets from Trump’s account @realDonaldTrum. The momentum gathered pace and soon it became a mob hysteria threatening a violent insurrection of the State. Intelligence officials were caught unawares of this emotional backlash.

The reaction by the social media companies

Reacting to the antics of President Trump, social network reacted swiftly, and the media banned him from their channels. Some of them went to the extreme of a lifetime ban. In a post CEO Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, wrote that Trump will be blocked from the Facebook and Instagram social media platforms “until the peaceful transition of power is complete”. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our services during this period are simply too great”.

Social media giant Twitter went on to announce that the handle @realDonaldTrump would be “permanently suspended”. New York Times carried a fully researched paper on the involvement of the Trump Administration in promoting the riots.  Even the loyal and pr Trump Administration Fox News had to carry the story of mayhem at Capitol Hill, though they tried to underplay it.Read

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The quick reaction of the media and tech companies was hardly surprising considering the gravity of the situation.  There was a lot of talk about the freedom of expression and content moderation, especially by the big tech companies. Do the social media companies have the right to remove an account because it violates the beliefs as they (social media companies) think?

It also raises the question of right of freedom of speech

But aren’t Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg the famous Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum? Because both are brainwashing the people. They manipulate and subtly coerce you to their belief system.

What are the signs of manipulation?

There are some classic signs of manipulation.

  • They exploit your weaknesses
  • They make you feel insecure

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg started it with the intention of providing a transparent and free platform for people to connect and express themselves. Over the years as the popularity of Facebook grow it started asserting itself. It demanded more and more space from the privacy of the members. It soon started learning about every habit of yours, every dark secret and every chat you had in the portal.

Facebook policies became complicated and full of legal jargon that allowed it to exploit the loophole created by the signing of the policies. It was even fined US$5 billion for breach of data. Their systematic effort to brainwash people has succeeded in many cases.

Many cult leaders use brainwashing or mind control. They use it to persuade their followers to conform to the cult’s wishes. The practices used could be ethical, unethical, or seemingly appear virtuous.

What is brainwashing?

 

A satirical depiction of brainwashing by Cesarleal Own work CC BY-SA 3.0

There are number of examples in history of leaders who drive the public whipping up mass hysteria.  They succeeded, albeit temporarily, brainwashing for their personal agenda.   The leaders succeed in brainwashing the people for a cause the leader believes to be correct.  Their brainwashing could be for a good cause or a bad one.  But the leaders convince the people about the reason.

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The public believes in everything the leader says and is willing to ignore apparent facts.  Brainwashing is synonymous with indoctrination, inculcation, propaganda, influence, etc.  It is a form of manipulation of your brain using persuasive techniques.  The precise methods used could be either by dialogue or by threat or actual violence.

Brainwashing (also known as mind control, menticide, coercive persuasion, thought control, thought reform, and re-education) is the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques. Brainwashing is said to reduce its subject’s ability to think critically or independently, to allow the introduction of new, unwanted thoughts and ideas into their minds, as well as to change their attitudes, values and beliefs” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainwashing

Though  ‘brainwashing’ is not a scientific term, it is well documented..  The term was first introduced by American journalist Edward Hunter in 1950 to describe the Chinese attempt to persuade the people to cooperate with them.  Though not accepted by psychologists, social scientists have been studying this phenomenon for ages.

Signs of religious brainwashing:

As discussed, earlier brainwashing is not necessarily a negative aspect.  It also has positive effects, as proved in virtually all religions.  All the religious preachers, without any exception, were experts in all the techniques of brainwashing.

This included demanding absolute obedience and humility, unquestioned faith in the teachings of the religion.  Non-compliance meant there was the threat of physical and psychological punishments, including social ostracism.

And the inducement or prize for compliance included material benefits and the ultimate promise of salvation. Every major religion has all these elements of persuasion to ensure that the flock remain with the denomination.

Techniques of brainwashing

Religion and Brainwashing

While salvation is a debatable question, certain signs of religious brainwashing have been extensively studied in psychology.  Neurotheology is the branch of science which deals with neuroscience of theological beliefs.

Religion and belief in its tenets is a soothing balm during the tumultuous phases in our lives.  It kindles the hope and the will to live for a tomorrow when one feels everything is lost.

Research has proven that meditating practices increased the activity in the frontal lobes of our brains linked to attention and focus.  Mass prayers and chanting produce a calming effect on the brains and the temperament of the persons.  It is also true that religious beliefs also create the ‘delusion’ effect.

Writing an introduction to the book, The Brainwashing Controversy: An anthology of Essential Documents, Dr J Gordon Melton talks about the effect of brainwashing theory in the United States.  The 1970s witnessed several religious movements, including the hippie movement.  New trends were popular.  Most of the new trends originated in Asia, giving them the glamour and the mystery.

Brainwashing today:

Brainwashing today has taken a different dimension.  In the last century, infamous leaders like Hitler, Pol Pot succeeded in convincing their citizens to commit crimes against humanity.  With the increase in communication channels and technology, it is impossible to create the old leaders’ mass hysteria.

Though China is still an exception in this regard.  There are stories of the systematic brainwashing of Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region.  Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, mainly Muslims, are recruited for “re-education” and teaching of  Chinese culture.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-50511063

The advertising industry has always been following brainwashing of a subtle and subliminal way of persuasion.  Whether it’s the repetition of the words, use of images and colours or appealing to emotions, copywriters have successfully influenced our buying behaviour.  Before the advent of social media, brainwashing was through billboards, newspaper, and television commercials.

Though the first social media, SixDegree.com, was introduced in 1997, it was in 2004 that Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, which registered over a million users in the same year.  Facebook indeed launched the social media revolution resulting in today’s multitude of platforms.

Social Media and brainwashing

The documentary “The Social Dilemma” was released in 2020.  Those who saw the movie were shocked to discover that they have been the “product” that the IT companies like Facebook, Google, etc., have been selling.  “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product”.

The discovery that there is no free lunch made a lot of people nervous. The nervousness doubled when the confessions of some executives, including some senior Facebook employees, went viral. People panicked and deleted the many apps they downloaded, and there was a scramble to protect privacy. An update of the terms of usage from Facebook, introduced last year went unnoticed.

Instead of paying to use Facebook and the other products and services we offer, by using the Facebook Products covered by these Terms, you agree that we can show you ads that businesses and organizations pay us to promote on and off the Facebook Company Products.

We use your personal data, such as information about your activity and interests, to show you ads that are more relevant to you” – Facebook Terms of Service, updated October 22, 2020.

Unfortunately, none of us spend enough time reading or understanding the Terms of Service of these social media companies. They are too long and encased in such legal jargon that we find it easier to click on “I Agree” and move on. Like the recent WhatsApp change of terms, you are left with no choice – it is either you agree to their terms or do not get to use their product. After all, it is a free product.

There is no free lunch

The social media apps and IT giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all involved in surveillance of our lives. They continuously track our likes, dislikes, places we have visited, our friends, hobbies, and darkest secrets. Your smartphone knows more about you than even you would know.

Every web page you have clicked, every post you liked, every word you typed in a chat are all recorded. These are later used to target advertisements, influence your behaviour and persuade you to their way of thinking.

Brainwashing subtly?

Donald Trump has been a master of brainwashing overtly and aggressively. He has been caught lying, bullying, and behaving in a snobbish manner. In every political speech in the Trump campaign in the November presidential election carried the narrative that was convenient to the Oval office. Trump’s posts keep repeating a point of view continuously echoing Goebbels dictum of “making a lie true”.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.

It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie. Thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”  Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of propaganda

US Presidential Elections and Social Media

The November elections in United States divided the country vertically between the supporters of the two leading political parties. The political advertising supported by leading American businesses went into frenzy increasing this divide. The social media platforms were abuzz with the chant ‘Black Lives Matter by an active civil rights group.

The black community, the Hispanics and other migrants were overwhelmingly anti Trump with others in a divided camp. The police brutality and the tragic death of George Floyd last fall stirred the global community and the social media sites broadcast the events real-time. Despite continuous denial, Trump’s ability to control was under question.

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All these recent events, before the November poll had a telling effect on the election results and no amount new political ads could contain the damage. Despite the furious tweeting and flurry activity by Donald Trump, Zuckerberg’s company and the Twitter could not stop the growing number of critics.

People used social media to exercise their freedom of expression and exposed Trump’s false information campaign. Trump refused to accept his defeat and kept up the chant of a rigged election. He complained about how the media has been distorting the news. And this continued chant ‘convinced’ his troopers to storm the Capitol to create the mayhem.

Trump’s posts have been so successful in his nefarious designs that resulted in one of the Trump supporters. John McGraw punching a peaceful protestor, Rakeen Jones. John McGraw proudly declared that “the next time we see him, we might have to kill him”. Trump arrogantly defended McGraw, “this man had enough because I will tell you what, people in this country are outraged’.

What is Antifa?

He has also been very vociferous against Antifa and even going to the extent of threatening to designate it as a terrorist organization.  What is Antifa?  Antifa is a term that designates a group of individuals with far-left orientation. It means anti-fascist.

Trump has been using social media, especially Twitter, to spread his philosophy and beliefs to people.  He tweeted over 34,000 tweets during his Presidency.   His average tweets per day were 34 during the second half of 2020.

https://www.statista.com/chart/19561/total-number-of-tweets-from-donald-trump/

He effectively used social media to cause the deep division of society, tried to be critical of free expression especially in the United States.

‘The Brainwashing of My Dad’

Jen Senko’s documentary, ‘The Brainwashing of My Dad’  by Jen Senko aptly demonstrates this social divide.   The film looks at the rise of the right-wing media through the lens of her father. His immersion in its daily propaganda radicalizes him.

“His new fanaticism rocked the very foundation of their family” “this phenomenon was occurring with alarming frequency in living rooms across America. The film reveals the consequences that this radicalised media is having on people, families America and the world.” https://www.thebrainwashingofmydad.com/.

In October 2020 Washington Post reported about a nearly $400 million donation by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. The donation to local and state governments was to help fund the US elections. This was when Facebook was accused heavily of invasion of privacy and was facing multiple lawsuits.

What is common between Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg?

President Trump and Mr. Zuckerberg are two sides of the same coin. Both are brainwashing us. One does it brazenly and aggressively and the other subtly and passively. President Joe Biden could be different but the interests of Facebook which is a private company to exploit the data available to it for commercial purposes will continue.

The choice is with us, though it is a limited choice. The same social media that influence us to buy a product also has enough information to sieve and choose according to our free will.

Changing over to Signal or Telegram because WhatsApp has changed its terms of service is like jumping from the pan to the fire. It will be a matter of time when Telegram or Signal will change its Terms of Policies.

Only time can tell. Meanwhile, we still have the freedom to exercise our choice.

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