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How we got to this post-truth: social networks and disinformation

social media and misinformation
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Reports like that of the consulting firm Gartner announced five years ago that by 2022, more and more misinformation content will be directly consumed. Disinformation is an everyday phenomenon, and social networks act as a kind of necessary collaborator, allowing fake news to spread on a massive scale and at a dizzying speed. The multiplier effect is aggravated in a context of polarization, where half-truths, distorted messages, or outright falsehoods grow on fertile ground.

perfect cocktail

This post-truth scenario is being constructed by three main actors: the political and institutional space, the media, and the citizens themselves.

effect crunch In the middle classes, the 2008 financial crisis sparked a public distaste for politics, a discontent that was exploited in increasingly aggressive communication strategies. Political parties and institutions themselves often encourage straightforward emotional conversations. Social networks are an ideal tool for this type of strategy where the complexity of the issues is ignored.

For its part, the media, weakened after years of economic crisis and struggling to find a place in the new digital ecosystem, has fostered sensationalism and fueled false debate. Call infotainmentespecially in television and in practice clickbait caused a sharp decrease in the rigor of its content.

According to journalist Carmela Ríos, “journalism is also about monitoring their Twitter accounts and analyzing the content they throw from different ideological lines. This is political journalism in Spain today”.

In this context, citizens are stunned by a constant stream of messages from an increasing number of channels. Given the partisan character that prevails in public positions, it seems essential to take sides in activating mechanisms such as confirmation bias, which function as critically incomplete feedback.

This cycle is reinforced by the algorithms used at Google and other social networks that created the famous bubble filter, which traps us in an ideological comfort zone where we are no longer exposed to information that questions our opinions.

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Misconceptions in democracy

Disinformation affects many areas of our existence, but where its effects can be most devastating is the health of democracies. The climate of social protest has become the perfect context for the proliferation of populist slogans. Negative emotions and hate speech are going viral thanks to perfectly oiled machinery.

According to a study by the University of Oxford, networks were used to initiate disinformation through large-scale automated operations in 81 countries in 2020. armies boots They perform repetitive tasks in a coordinated way to master speech. They create controversy, spearhead smear campaigns, and distract from the really important issues.

The use of artificial intelligence contributes to the production of false narratives. deep fake only the last base. The advancement of open source made more and more simple tools popular, thus increasing traffic for manipulated videos.

A deep fake Vladimir Putin warns American citizens of election interference and growing political division.

It is not possible to talk about disinformation campaigns without mentioning the example of Russia. In reality, President Vladimir Putin adopted the theory of General Valeri Gerasimov (next generation war), warfare is thus “a strategy of penetration rather than brute force”. The priority is to “break the internal coherence of the enemy system” through destabilization and incessant noise. It is a war on multiple fronts and requires few resources. And that it is necessary to manipulate Russian public opinion in the face of operations as unacceptable as the current occupation of Ukraine.


Once this complex panorama has been identified, it is essential to consider possible alternatives that society as a whole must deal with in the post-truth scenario.

These come from institutions, platforms and the media, but they must come from every citizen as the last agent involved in disinformation. Social networks give each individual the power to be a spreader and distributor of informative content, but this practice is not always constructive.

At this point, the solution lies in awareness, which enables more responsible attitudes, and above all, in the digital literacy of the society. This needs to be encouraged from training centers and extended to different age groups. According to the PISA 2021 report, it is urgent to develop the skills of young people to identify biased, subjective or partial content, which is an aspect of our country that is at the bottom of the OECD.Speech

Mercedes Herrero de la Fuente is a professor and researcher at the University of Nebrija. CC’s doctor. Information (UCM). University of Nebrija

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.

Independent journalism needs the support of its readers to keep going and have the disturbing stories at hand that they don’t want you to read. Today, with your support, we will continue to work hard for uncensored journalism!

Source: El Nacional


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