What influences you?. An interesting question to ponder | by Teri Radichel | Cloud Security | Feb, 2023
An interesting question to ponder
Someone asked me a really interesting question today. It was so interesting I decided to write a blog about it. Why is a security researcher writing about influence? No, I do not want to be “an influencer” though people keep tagging me as such. It even says that in my LinkedIn profile, for the record. I guess what I really don’t want is to be an influencer who is paid to influence. I want to be an honest voice.
I am writing about this because it is a topic of interest I have written about before and it is related to cyber attacks. Many governments and organizations try to influence people through social media. They may try to influence elections or stir up unrest that leads to violence.
These days, likely everyone is aware of this fact, but the first time I wrote about it it was not a mainstream topic. In fact, the day I was writing about it, I had to log back in and edit my article before it got published because that very day, Facebook first announced that it was shutting down a number of bogus accounts trying to influence people.
You can find this article on the WayBack machine.
I also realized after my recent exchange and others in that past that some people don’t know how to find the sources I read. Everyone assumes I watch one channel on TV. I don’t. I don’t even watch news on TV for the most part. I occasionally listen to the radio. Since everyone makes incorrect assumptions about how and where I get my news, I thought I would explain it.
What influences me? When it comes to news — research to uncover facts. I don’t just watch one station and believe everything they say. I read many, many resources to come to conclusions, hopefully based on facts.
In a past post, I wrote about how I research cybersecurity topics:
This post is more about general news sources.
News from around the world
How do I do that exactly? Multiple ways.
First of all I follow lots of news sources on a particular social media account. I follow left, right, and everything in between but I avoid complete tabloids. I feel that Fox News and MSNBC are equally biased on either side and I don’t particularly love either one, but I follow them both. I also follow news sources from all over the world, not just the United States.
My news sources come from the US, China, Russia, Australia, France, UK, India, Israel, Germany, the Middle East, Africa and other parts of Asia and Latin America.
Here are some examples:
The Jerusalem Post
And many, many others.
When it comes to cybersecurity I use some the search tactics I’ll explain below and I have some favorite sources after evaluating sources on a daily basis for most accurate reporting.
How do I find these sources? It’s easy to search and find out what the top newspaper is in any country and add it to your Twitter feed. That is one of the reasons I like Twitter. I can follow whatever news sources I want.
If you’re looking for news sources you can find them in Google. For example, you can find these news sources for the war in Ukraine and Russia which are closer to the source than US newspapers:
You may also be able to find the Russian podcasts and bloggers that Russia is trying to shut down, but you may have to speak Russian to understand them. Then head over to Twitter and follow those sources to get them to show up in your daily feed.
I’ve seen this source a few times in my feed but I actually got it off the radio:
Sources can come from anywhere but you want to make sure they are valid sources not reporting nonsense or just being sensational to get attention. I have figured out which sources, over time, by comparing them all on a daily basis, are factual and straightforward in their reporting, with less opinion or bias.
Some sources are trying to drive angst, hate, and stir up controversy. I avoid those sources and look for facts, news, and true information.
Following politicians and political news sources
Rather than get sound bites of what people say on TV or elsewhere, I follow some politicians as well, to see what they are actually saying and accomplishing on a daily basis.
Some politicians are simply tweeting attacks all day long — repetitive mantras over and over again in what seems to be coordinated talking points across a group of related accounts. Not once do I see them write about something they have actually accomplished or work they have done on a particular day.
Other politicians are tweeting out what they have accomplished for the American people each day. Whether you believe them or not or like what they are doing is another matter. You can verify if they have done what they claim they have done by searching multiple news sources on the topic as I will show you how to do below. You won’t see what people are saying unless you watch all the feeds and all sides and take an honest look at what they are writing.
How to influence the algorithms so you only see one side
Now, if something annoys you on Twitter, and you comment on it, you’re going to see more of that kind of content. The same is true for things you like. So your best bet is to avoid commenting on things if you want to see all your news sources equally in your feed. Otherwise, you can go out to each source and click on it to see what that sources is saying.
You can also search on a particular topic on Twitter but that generally comes with a lot of nonsense and noise in the results — and sometimes worse. I tend to report things that I don’t find relevant to a topic I’m searching on to try to influence and improve search results. I’m sure others are doing the opposite and I have witnessed this with certain hashtags that overtake news with noise. A hashtag is a word with # in front of it that tags a particalar topic so people searching on it will find that tweet. For example, I often add #cybersecurity and #cloudsecurity to my Tweets.
If you don’t like something a particular source is saying on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere, you can block it or mute it. If you start to block every source that disagrees with your point of view, you’re only going to see your own point of view. Maybe that’s what you want, but it’s not the best way to make informed decisions.
Finding news from many sources
One way to find news from many sources is this approach:
- Head over to Google.
Note: You may choose another search engine but make sure it is a legitimate search engine. Microsoft just announced a change to Bing, claiming it is now better. I haven’t tried it. Duck Duck Go claims to be unbiased, but I find a lot of different sources and viewpoints on Google as you can see below.
- Enter whatever your topic is that you want to research. I’ll pick “Trump”
- Search on that topic.
- Click on News.
Here you will find many different sources across which you can read to compare and contrast content. And no, it is not all anti-trump. It usually represents a spectrum of viewpoints.
Let’s say you read this news source every day. You can then choose to see the most recent news this way. Click on Tools. The search for the timeframe you want to see. If you follow certain topics daily like I do, like cybersecurity, malware, etc., this is a handy feature.
Let’s say you want to get a bit more specific. There’s a LOT of news. Perhaps you want to see the status of “Trump Lawsuits” so search for that.
Maybe you want to be even more specific. You know the status of the lawsuit in Georgia.
Perhaps you’re more interested in what is going on in the war in Ukraine. Here you can see that Google includes sources from Twitter and sources from all over the world. If you scroll through all the news for that last day, you will hit a point where the news is in other languages as well.
That’s how I look for news and information on topics I care about. I try to avoid being swayed by one particular point of view on social media. I try to weed out the noise and look for sources who report honestly by comparing and contrasting viewpoints from around the world.
Alright, back to securing cloud systems…
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Teri Radichel | © 2nd Sight Lab 2023
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