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.

alt

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.

alt
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.

alt
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:

alt

"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

A branch of the Islamic State in Yemen has released footage allegedly showing the beheadings of four Yemeni soldiers and the shooting of 11 others, an observer said. It comes a week after the group declared its official presence in the war-torn country.

  • Published in World

No joke: Turkish women shouldn’t laugh, says deputy PM

Turkey’s deputy prime minister has been mocked on social media after saying women should not laugh in public. Bülent Arınc used a meeting for Eid al-Fitr to condemn perceived moral regression, consumerism and even excessive mobile phone use.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed