Importance of social networks highlighted in Cuba

Social networks are today a space where the media and social movements must have a presence, warned Spanish Professor Manuel Castells while talking to students from the Faculty of Communication of this capital.

In the 10th Meeting of Researchers and Students of Information and Communication (ICOM 2019), the professor talked to the students about the need to be present as a social force and gain ground in the network spaces.

'If you are not on the Internet, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, you do not exist. It is in this space where large social movements and rejection of government policies that undermine their dignity have emerged and articulated,' said Castells.

He also called to shed ideas that freedom on the web is good or bad, clarifying that Internet sense is printed from the power of its consumers and the ability to build ideas, social projects; and think about today's and future society.

'The Internet is our environment, our life, where we express what we are, we enter our data, we make it a reality,' he said.

Referring to the role of journalism in the face of the avalanche of social networks, Castells ratified the need to prepare the professionals to take advantage of the web and know how to recognize the real news, verify data, and rely on citizen reports.

  • Published in Cuba

Narrating Continuity…

Three years ago today, I knew about Fidel Castro’s death. It was early in the morning and I was alone in Rio de Janeiro. Obviously, I read the news on the Internet. Social networks are somehow the geography of our nation, but I cannot weigh them up quite well.

Recently, a friend of mine shared with me a viewpoint that certainly makes sense. Certain groups of the Cuban socio-class are governing the social networks. And even though I have increasingly seen more ordinary Cuban citizens playing a very important role on the Internet against postmodern, liberal, social democratic narrative and all its variations — the goal is to attack the political system in Cuba, aiming at turning it into another thing, quite different indeed —, the truth is that in some groups, made up essentially of intellectuals and artists who claim to wish the best to our country and made noble causes their flagship, join forces with those who work for the international far right in the U.S. But they do not say a word about it while their visibility and influence grow bigger.

In the early hours of that November 25th, away from home, I knew about Fidel’s passing on the Internet. Then I found the typical, aesthetically correct speech but weak in terms of principles of the Cuban “progressive” forces. They barely admitted Fidel’s positive features and legacy — they granted at least that concession to him — but they later crucified him by alluding Republican formulas in liberal democracies with which they weigh up the world in their own image and likeness. I promptly run across bursts of hate from Cubans residing in Miami, euphoric and fired up, as nature had finally conceded them a shred of questionable fortune that an infinite amount of money and their government strategies had failed to achieve, as they would have wanted. I also saw with great satisfaction other colleagues who had never been involved in political debates before, honoring Fidel. I also saw excessive idol worshippers who hurt no less. I saw ferocious fights full of insults as if there was no tomorrow. Then, I understood the real extent of what was being brewed in Internet — the perfect scene for a political struggle on Cuba. I distanced myself from all of these. I chose to imagine with growing nostalgia I was one of the seven million Cuban citizens who mourned in every square. My friends from the University chatted with me and described me in awe how students were gathering, surprised about their reaction. My family wrote me and it was another source of information.

When my Brazilian colleagues asked me about how I felt, with a very special curiosity, I confirmed that it was not another President’s death for many people outside Cuba. Fidel had been, in fact, one of the most influential human beings of his time. A man who was annoying for the colonial, capitalist, global hegemonic order due to his imperative order of rationality, which meant transgression and subversion.

In days when the concept of continuity — while thinking of Fidel — is in the spotlight of Cuban official media, we would be fortunate if we can maintain the anti-hegemonic logic of Fidel’s ideas in order to defend the conditions for the continuity of a social, anti-colonialist project in a world where colonial dominance is pretty sophisticated and frightening. It would be the continuity of change, the alternative, and the struggle for transforming the world; the continuity of hope. And this continuity must be championed, built, and narrated. As for Cuba, there are some who disguise themselves with a sort of aesthetic that introduces itself as avant-garde, when in fact, is quite the opposite. With the support of the most important economic powers of the world, although they labeled themselves as independent, all of them take profit of social networks to continue repeating again and again hackneyed formulas of liberal democracies as the only possible alternative, betting on another kind of continuity: the continuity of disaster.

Taken from Karima Oliva Bello’s Facebook profile

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz/CubaSí Translation Staff

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Social Networks and the New World of Lies

Last Tuesday, Kristinn Hrafnsson —Wikileaks’ editor in chief— stated before a group of foreign press correspondents that the case of Julian Assange, incarcerated in UK and claimed by the U.S., is part of a conspiracy against press freedom.

It is not an isolated case —pointed out the Icelander journalist before adding that the recent attacks on media in California, U.S., the searches carried out by the Federal Police at the headquarters of ABC network in Sydney, Australia, and the incarceration of Swedish journalist Olin Bin, in Ecuador, are also part of a global strategy to stamp out investigative journalism.

Even more disturbing, nonetheless, is the fact that more important than press “freedom” or investigative journalism, the truth itself seems really in danger of vanishing. While the truth is incarcerated in the role of Julian Assange, lies are unleashed and multiplied like never before in the media and social networks.

At the same time Hrafnsson offered his statement in London, an international survey carried out that day and released in Canada showed that 86% of people have taken for granted at least one fake news they have read in social networks.

According to the 82% of people consulted in the Ipsos survey for the Canadian analysis group Center for International Governance Innovation, the platforms of social networks were regarded as the main responsible for the dissemination of fake news. The 77% of users had pointed at Facebook as the main source of fake news while 62% chose Twitter.

The problem is truly alarming if we take into account that there is an increasingly high number of people using social networks as information source. In the words of communication connoisseurs, beyond the technological progresses, the rising number of users in social networks has to do with the discredit of traditional media in recent years. However, is there any credibility in social networks after the results of this survey went public?

To make things worse, it was released a fake video in Instagram with the one and only Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. In the video, manipulated by artificial intelligence, Zuckerberg stands there saying, while describing his own personality: “Imagine this for a second: a man, with a total control of data stolen from millions and millions of people, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.”

The fake video shows Zuckerberg bragging about his dominance. The video was created by Israel’s emerging company Canny AI, and artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe, allegedly for an artistic project called Spectrum, which was screened at the British International Documentary Festival Sheffield Doc/Fest.

It is shocking that Instagram —which belongs to Facebook— will not blocked the video. Therefore, it will be added to a series of other manipulated videos, known as “deepfake” due to the use of artificial intelligence with extremely realistic results.

The most popular of this sort of “masterpieces” falsifying reality, which Facebook denies to block by the way, is the ridiculously false video released one month ago where the Speaker of the House of Representative of the U.S., Nancy Pelosi, was talking as if she were drunk.

The video involving Pelosi was released to the world in a tweet posted by the U.S. President Donald Trump. And now that we are referring to lies and Trump, the president of the nation of “press freedom,” the first champion against fake news, recently called for a mass boycott from Americans against AT&T, one of the greatest telecom giants of the country, to force them to make “huge changes” within CNN network, owned by that company. According to Trump, CNN is so unfair with such bad, fake news! When the world watches CNN, it gets a false picture of USA.”

And it was not a fake tweet, as it was Pelosi’s video. This tweet came out of the brain of the U.S. President who has turned the foreign policy of his nation into an anthology of lies and vulgar threats against those countries resilient to the Empire dominance. The same Trump who attacked the media for what he called “a fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran,” stated immediately thereafter in another tweet that such reports had a positive impact since “Iran does not know what to do now, which is a good thing after all.”

In this new world, those who dare to denounce a crime, as in Assange’s case, are condemned by those who committed such crime. The goal will be always to achieve nobody knows what to think, not to mention when the information is true or false; and that is the only truth.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz/CubaSí Translation Staff

Who Benefits from the Tornado of Lies in Facebook?

Fake News are now plentiful in Facebook and seek to reaffirm the already old opinion trend on the uselessness of the state to solve national problems that has been used by Cuba’s enemies to justify the blockade and other aggressive politics against the Island.

The last electric poles had not yet reached the ground in the different neighborhoods affected by the tornado on January 27th and Facebook was already pondering the great "humanity and solidarity" of alleged freelancers opposed to the inexistent inaction of the state.

Nothing more biased and ridiculous if we take into account the role that has always played the Cuban government in the face of similar catastrophes which is exemplary for almost all countries worldwide and it has been recognized, more than once by different international organizations. Cubans, like nobody else, has not just demonstrated to be solidary with its own people, but also, with the peoples of other countries.

Likewise, the presumed disorder and "inaction" of the state becomes motive for certain donations that rather than solidarity hide the manipulation of the topic of the so-called "humanitarian help", a plot largely used in the past by the U.S. to give reason for invasions against those countries that don't bend to their hegemony.

The best example in this sort of media approach is evidenced right now in Venezuela, where after a cruel economic battle directed from the U.S. against that country, now the puppet stringed from the White House seeks to use the unfortunate help offered by the U.S., and the nations rallied behind them to pull the Venezuelan people out of the crisis.

Needless to say that after almost 60 years of relentless blockade against Cuba, worsen in the last weeks it’s at least revolting to become an accomplice of such trick.

Let’s not forget that, shortly before the passing of the devastating tornado in Havana, the Task Force for the internet in Cuba directed from the United States had activated the campaign to influence the referendum of the Constitution scheduled for next February 24th therefore is not strange to see in social networks associated to the lies about the tornado the hashtag #yovotono.

We must repeat that shortly before the end of last year, in a budgetary report of the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the United States, it became public the plan of using «native» and «unmarked» Cuban Facebook accounts to spread content fabricated by the U.S. government.

The objective of these contents was to set confusion among those who still naively believe that social networks are a trustworthy source of news. Neither humanitarian, neither solidary, their true objective is to incite dissatisfaction and cause riots and public disobedience that, besides attempting against the civic harmony, pouring fuel to new campaigns of lies against Cuba.

We must bear in mind the international context in which this tornado of lies occurs. Last Friday, the fascist U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton, was crystal clear when he repeated that the publicized massacre against the Venezuelan people is only the first step of the war of that country against what he calls the "troika of tyranny" that also includes Nicaragua and Cuba.

  • Published in Specials

Cuba: government in line with its people

Governing is becoming a more agile and participatory exercise in the Largest Antillean island, also based on the possibilities offered by social networks. We are Cuba on the Network of Networks.

Barely a year ago and perhaps less, it would have been unthinkable to know about an event such as the recent fire at La Cabaña Fortress a while after it was made public, with a tweet posted by the Minister of Culture on the subject.

But this has been the case and it will become more and more agile, informative and guiding because the exercise of governing in Cuba is achieving contemporaneity twists also from the use of social networks.

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Before October 10, some executives and especially institutions had accessed Web 2.0. But after the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel, joined Twitter that day and undoubtedly that marks a before and after.

So much so that today, according to data published by Cubadebate, a total of 7 members of the State Council, 15 of the Council of Ministers and 22 ministries and institutions, in addition to Diaz-Canel himself, have twitter accounts right now.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) was the first Cuban institution to join social networks

Since December of last year, CubaSí had called the attention with the text "The Island between networks" on the incorporation into social networks, even slowly then, of institutions and executives. When the comment was published, Facebook was the social network privileged by those who rule. Now, for obvious reasons of leadership in Cuba, twitter gains the upper hand.

But maybe the best is yet to come, maybe it's about to appear soon.

With the startup of 3G service, that is, the Internet connection through mobile data via cell phones, the possibilities for a two-way communication between Cubans and their government are further expanded.

If before December 6 there were nearly four million Cubans active on social networks, this figure will gradually grow and with it, the voice of the inhabitants of this Island in dialogue with those who rule them.

It is known that the process has been slow conditioned by the economic limitations of the country. The first to appear was the so-called institutional connectivity, through which 60% of the more than 5 million Cubans who currently access some of the services are connected to the Internet.

Then, more than two years ago, the Wi-Fi zones enabled more than two million people to have access to some of the alternatives of the Network of Networks. If we add to this the more than 1,200 surfing rooms and the Nauta-Hogar services, the increase of the Cuban presence on the Internet becomes visible.

As is logical, these connections are still mainly aimed at communicating with family and friends living in other latitudes. But as the connections continue to expand and tariffs go down - if they fall drastically today there is no infrastructure in Cuba to respond to such a demand - surfers will also look for other objectives.

And that's when it will become even richer, with a double-way road, the presence of Cuban executives on the Internet. Although they already receive criteria, they will increasingly be an exercise in citizen democracy with potentialities still unexplored on the island.

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The startup of the 3G service fosters communication between government and people.

The conviction of its importance exists. The president himself has been an example and an incentive. And the citizenship, for its part, although up to now it had not had massive possibilities of connection, does have, in general, and for a long time, a technological literacy that paradoxically places it among the populations best prepared for the new technologies.

Anyway, it cannot be forgotten that the Cuban population is one of the oldest in the world and despite the abovementioned technological literacy, there are still and will be some who do not get along with touch screens or mice. That is why, as Diaz-Canel has also demonstrated, the face-to-face exchange with the people, far from formality and well-informed visits, will remain.

The conviction that all roads are valuable to enrich communication and to respond to concerns has also been conveyed in recent broadcasts of the Mesa Redonda TV program, where ministers and other top executives have appeared on three occasions to answer questions and concerns emerged in the population.

It is true that ministers and other personalities have taken part in this program on many other occasions, but in the aforementioned cases it was specifically to clarify and respond to citizens' concerns, a part of which, precisely, the social networks expressed themselves on self-employment, transportation and regulations for artistic work.

As long as the two-way digital road increases its traffic, opinion messages will surely make more room and mark stances, like the one posted by the president on December 7 with respect to the round table debate on self-employment –in addition to the informative or descriptive messages that update the citizens on the agenda of this or that executive:

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"There is no need to believe that rectifications are setbacks nor to confuse them with weaknesses when one is listening to the people. Revolution is changing everything that needs to be changed. None of us can do as much as we all of can together."

The presence of Cuban leaders and citizens on social networks is also ratifying it.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Celebs and Social Networking

Until very recently, celebs could only express their opinions when their field of performance called the attention of the so-called traditional media.

Whenever there was a concert, an exhibition or a scientific discovery, journalists went there not only to cover the event, but also to get one or two statements from the celeb on some topic out of his reach, almost always on politics, which of course was in line with the editorial policy of the interviewer’s outlet.

Today, with the appearance of social networking it is no longer quite like that and celebs do not have to wait for journalists to look for them, because Facebook, Instagram, blogs, twitter and Youtube are there. A good example of what I am referring to is that of US President Donald Trump, who, constantly hounded by traditional media that according to him only produces fake news, has made Twitter social networking his favorite outlet to communicate with the world.

By the way, his mistakes on and out of Twitter are anthological, because the fame that his post grants him as a “new emperor” does not allow him to lead the world with the same Mafia methods that a hotel chain is managed with.

Although, everybody knows about baseball, celebs should talk about what they really know, if they’re politicians about politics, if they’re painters about painting, if they’re musicians about music and about tourism if they’re hotel owners. But apparently, such logic seems very complicated for some especially in these days of intrigues in social networks.

Besides Trump, there are some around a bit egocentric, who do not find it enough with the fame they earned from their talent in certain field and decide to venture into journalism.  What in Cervantes’s language could be called professional intrusiveness.

Italian semiologist and novelist Umberto Eco: "Social networks give the right of expression to legions of imbeciles, who beforehand only talked in the bar after a glass of wine, without disturbing the community. They were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right of expression as a Noble Prize laureate. It’s the invasion of the imbeciles.”

Although it sounds easy, journalism is a science that has its rules and one of the most important is that of responsibility. A celebrity who has not yet lost his mind should think very carefully before issuing or amplifying judgments about which he does not really have the slightest idea, at least, as long as the opposite is not proven.

That personality should be aware that a wrong opinion of him can influence thousands or millions of those fans who blindly believe that fame alone allows the celeb to approach any issue.

But that is not the worst thing of the matter. The worst thing is that social networks have become a breeding ground for new celebrities. Any nice guy who does not have the slightest idea of what he is saying can collect a legion of followers in the networks just for having a pretty face.

So now in the networks there are experts in all kind of subjects. If Archimedes lived in these times he would have said: "Give me a cell phone and I will move the world".

The formula of reggaeton is an indisputable example. With a computerized rhythm, a good anthology of obscene words and a synthesized voice, anyone can become another star throwing nonsense right and left in the networks.

But all is not lost. Luckily the applications of social networks yet do not allow to perform surgeries via the Internet because in these technological times surely novice surgeons will not be left out. Hopefully, nobody comes up with the idea because you can be sure that the killing would be indiscriminate ...

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

ISIS releases video of Yemeni soldiers execution – report

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  • Published in World
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