Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fearmongering by Fox News

I'm sure this happens nearly every day, but I don't usually get to see it because I do not have television. It is only through the Daily Show's "Moment of Zen" on May 13th that I caught a Fox News ad.
(dramatic music) "These pictures look identical, but one contains a secret message. What's hidden inside, and how terrorists could use it against us, tomorrow at 10."

What this really means to you:
NOTHING! Seriously, this is blatant fearmongering to get ratings.

What the news program probably talked about is called steganography. It's been around for at least 600 years in some form or another. In the form described in the ad, it's been around for at least 20 years. The computer program Stego was written by a former Playboy model to encode information in subtle changes in digital images. This method of encryption was even featured in an episode of the television show Millennium back in 1997. This is nothing new. Everyone can use steganographic encryption, so it should be no surprise that terrorists, a subset of everyone, use it.

Terrorists' use of this encryption has no real effect on you. The Fox News ad may leave you wondering how you can protect yourself from this threat, so you would want to watch their show to find out. It is a trick. There is really nothing you can do, unless you're some kind of expert in this technology and you are able to scour the internet for information encrypted in images. But if you're one of those experts, you sure as heck don't need any of the information Fox News is giving out. In fact, when you realize that you can't do anything about it, you may become even more afraid, which would keep you tuned in to Fox News to learn more about threats in case there is something that you can do.

Our friends in the CIA and FBI are on it. Accept that you can't do anything, and enjoy the good things in your life. Turn off Fox News and spend some quality time with the people you love.

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