Top Three Tricks

After I finished reading part one of Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I’m Lying, I found myself really thinking about how the many companies, and even individuals, manipulate information and the media to be shown to the public to advance their interests and ultimately, promote fake news. Within part one of his book, Holiday delves into nine tactics that he used to manipulate the media he was working with to further his brands. Three of these tactics that I believe are most important and novel would be:

  • Tactic #2 – Tell them what they want to hear
  • Tactic #3 – Give them what spreads, not what’s good
  • Tactic #9 – Just make stuff up (everyone else is doing it)

Within tactic #2 of “tell them what they want to hear”, I feel that this is pretty self explanatory and also one of the most relevant strategies for new outlets out there, especially those promoting fake news. Holiday talked about tactic two when discussing how press releases were copied word-for-word in many blogs and news, and also how Wikipedia can be used in a variety of ways to magnify the ‘truth’. From this, bloggers are able to fake their credibility, in a way, because although their information is correct, it isn’t their information. I have encountered this specific trick in my own experience as a media consumer, specifically on Wikipedia. I’m sure everyone knows that Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable source of information, as any page can be edited by any random person from around the world and they can input false information on that page for the fun of it. Back in high school, one assignment was to write about George W. Bush and I took to Wikipedia for my information. Although I don’t remember exactly what I wrote for that assignment, after researching today, I found out that his webpage is the most edited out of any Wikipedia page out there. I can’t imagine what false information I may have written back then!


Tactic #3 was titled “Give them what spreads, not what’s good”. This is relevant in media today as good things don’t always spread as much as bad things do. One of the main emotions to evoke, as said by Holiday, is anger and this emotion is a strong indicator of how viral the information being shared will be. He also said that anything that is controversial should be shared, as it is key to manipulating the media and those consuming it to allow its intended messages to be spread.

I found that tactic #9 of “just make stuff up (everyone else is doing it)” was very relatable today in society. When discussing this tactic, Holiday discusses how finding just the right ‘angle’ can really sway the opinion of many when publishing a work and how this angle contributes to the influx of an audience and views on a page. If you have to create fake news to do it and bring popularity to yourself and your work, then so be it. So many news resources and media outlets out there use this tactic because why not? Bloggers and writers will continuously spread fake news whether we like it or not because who’s stopping them?

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading part one of Trust Me, I’m Lying, and choosing only three of the most interesting tactics was hard as I thought all of them were very important when it comes to the strategies used by fake newsies. I can’t wait to read part two!

BAD NEWS: The Disinformation Game

After playing the game of Bad News, I found myself reflecting on the impact that media and propaganda really has on society. This game is all about the six factors of bad news which includes, discrediting, impersonation, polarization, emotion, conspiracy and trolling. This game is really all about understanding how news sources aren’t always credible, pushing out lies, disinformation, misinformation and fake news, just to gain a larger following and to promote ideas that the mass public can believe because everyone else is believing it as well.

As a player, I noticed that I had trouble throwing away my ethical reasoning and choosing options that could help build my persona as a lying and devious news-monger. I would say that the game is more so unrealistic, as although it references some real news sources and world problems, the overall portrayal of ideas and such were irrational and rather exaggerated. I understand that that is the point of the game, to propose irrational concepts that you can choose from to determine your fate as a ‘bad news’ promoter, but I felt that some ideas and information were very out there and irrelevant that I wouldn’t even believe it if I had read it myself.

Personally, I didn’t like how the game only allowed you a few options to choose from each time. When I began playing, I thought that the ideas would expand and could lead to various other opportunities for gameplay. Every time I was given the choice between two, I found myself creating other options in my head that I thought would be better for the situation. More choices would raise my liking of this game to a great extent. When playing Bad News, I thought the inclusion of ‘bots’ to raise your follower count, credibility and pull as an influencer was definitely a portion of the game that I thought was realistic, therefore leading me to choose the option of bot promotion every time. This is because in the real world, especially on Twitter and Instagram, the follower count and the quality and quantity of responses in every aspect of media is very important to how large of an audience your information can reach and influence.