‘Infotainment’ Website Trolls Vicksburg

An online self-described ‘Infotainment’ site has listed Vicksburg as the least safe city in Mississippi.  Several online commentators have used the site as a credible source to reinforce their belief that crime is up in Vicksburg.

Screen Capture of RoadSnacks graphic.

Screen Capture of RoadSnacks graphic.

The problem is RoadSnacks.net is an “Infotainment” site.

They have to very clearly make that distinction so they don’t get sued for false, damaging or misleading information.  They could damage the reputation of someone or something with their method and be held liable in a lawsuit.  RoadSnacks.net says: “This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.”  A clear statement that you should not use their ‘facts’ because RoadSnacks only uses the information to create entertainment or Infotainment’ as they call it.

fakenewsHowever, people have been using sites like this as a reference for confirming their biases.  When we hold beliefs that cannot be substantiated with facts, those beliefs are called a bias.  A bias is a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.  Unfair because it cannot be confirmed as fact.

Websites like this exist for the advertising.  The more extreme the headline the more likely people are to click the website.  When you click that website it takes you to the information but more importantly, it takes you to the advertisements on that page.  These days people are becoming multi-millionaires by getting people to click on their website, video or comment.cha-ching-ignition-marketing

PewDiePie is the name of a YouTuber who has the most followers or subscribers of any YouTube provider.  PewDiePie has almost 64 million subscribers and has an annual income estimated around 4 Million dollars a year.  He has created his wealth by posting outrageous things online.  While his core genre is gaming, he ventures off into all kinds of topics to attract and keep viewers of his video channel.  YouTube has advertisers pay them money to advertise on pages like PewDiePies.  Online advertising surpassed all other forms of advertising in 2017.  The big money is online and providers like PewDiePie are becoming the Bob Hopes and Merv Griffins of this new generation.

Websites like RoadSnacks.net exist all over the internet.  They provide outrageous content that makes you click their page so advertisers will give RoadSnacks money in hopes that you click it.

The information contained in RoadSnacks.net list about Vicksburg claims it is the least safe city in Mississippi.  However, another list from the same website says Louisville is the worst place to live in Mississippi.  Vicksburg is not even on that list.  Another listing on their site is The 10 Easiest Cities To Get Laid in Mississippi.  Vicksburg is not in the top 10.  Infotainment indeed.  skeptical-guy

RoadSnacks is a website created and owned by Chris Kolmer, a self described hacker. He created RoadSnacks to, again self-described, keep his legacy growing.  The other names and profiles on the website credited as writers of the stories could not be verified or found.  It is not uncommon for smaller websites to create names of a generic nature.  Online reviewers note it appears the website is a single guy driving web traffic with some algorithm.  RoadSnacks is a part of HomeSnacks.net which is owned by Chasing Chains, LLC which is owned by the same Chris Kolmer.

Another problem with the information provided in the ’10 Worst Cities’ list is the numbers used by the “Infotainment” website.  When the list first popped up in November of 2017 they cited the population of Vicksburg as just over 22,000 people.  Our current population is closer to 23,000(they have updated their information on population but have not updated their list).    That may seem like a small distinction, but as any math tutor will tell you, the impact on a comparative graphic will be huge.   So huge it could move us from first place on the list to maybe even not being in the top 50, let alone the top 10.  Vicksburg is unique in that we are the only incorporated city in Warren County and so any credible crime statistic would include the entire population of 49,000 plus and crime numbers from the county.

Not only are the biases presented in this article unfair, the “scientific” methodology used to arrive at Roadsnack’s conclusions is shoddy: instead of presenting the aggregate information on crime statistics by location, they erroneously plot one scale in terms of another. This is not “indexing;” it’s manipulating otherwise reliable data to create something “different.”

If it’s on the internet it may or may not be true.  As a nation, our ability to determine what is true has become yet another dividing line and seems to define who we are.