Goebbels' heirs

Image: Connor Danylenko


Journalists profit from spreading lies through social networks

It is unacceptable in a democracy that the main disseminator of fake news on YouTube regarding the Coronavirus, removed from the network by the social network manager herself, is a journalist from the mainstream media anchors in two of the main journalism vehicles in the country. This explains much of our institutional and political fragility.

How can Rede Globo de Televisão and CNN claim the condition of credibility when they employ the journalist appointed in the CPI of COVID in Congress who raised the most with false content on the subject on YouTube? That's right: on Friday, 11/06, the CPI received a list of 385 videos that were removed from the air for containing misinformation about the pandemic. Simply 126 of them were from journalist and political commentator Alexandre Garcia, who raised around 70 thousand reais with the dissemination of misinformation about Covid-19. In second place was the candidate for mayor of Goiânia for Christian Democracy, Gustavo Gayer and in fifth place on the list is another journalist with a long career at Organizações Globo: Leda Nagle, who today works independently.

It is necessary to understand that fake news is not just a disservice to the news, it is also a way to draw attention and profit from the audience. Fakenews, especially in an alarmist or denialist sense, is a way to gain attention for the audience, generate engagement and, therefore, monetize. The pandemic laid bare fakenews and showed its gravity: it is a business option at the expense of people, without empathy, without ethics. In the case of misinformation about COVID, which has been demonstrated by the CPI of Congress, Fake news is also a form of action by the Government and, together with that, a way of approaching and valuing that was in line with its discourse, regardless of the mission of the Government. journalism in seeking the truth of the facts.

Unfortunately, truths and facts have become the Kryptonite of social media – they weaken it. By some algorithm, the conclusion was reached that truth, reality, balance, consistency do not give an audience. At the heart of social media are clicks. The problem is that audience doesn't build facts. Clicks do not build truths.

What makes the role of social networks difficult in the information society is the necessary realization that false communication is the foundation of manipulation and, as many vehicles want to use information manipulation strategies to foment the audience and apprehend the viewer, not they want regulation. Regulating information and holding communication vehicles accountable for fake news is the very regulation that punishes the manipulation of information.

Facts and truths are made from concrete evidence in reality, and the sum of countless lies does not turn into a truth. By the way, we need to stop reproducing this idiocy that a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. Tell an apple a thousand times that it is a pear, you will not make it a pear. Even if you convince yourself of your own lie, it doesn't change a fact or reality. Changing the perception of something does not change its causal relationship. Convincing a person that he is a dog may serve to dominate him, but it does not make him a dog.

The paraphrase of the phrase by Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels should not be understood in its literal sense, but it should be noted that in its context it means that a lie told countless times generates domination. That's why she is so dangerous and must be fought. The domination that comes from lying is the worst kind, the kind that some benefit from the misfortune of many.

Unfortunately, the majority of the population does not clearly discern interpretations of the facts. To say that the pandemic is harmless is an interpretation that does not diminish the fact that its spread generates an increase in the number of infections and deaths; on the contrary, the interpretation that is not supported by the facts has allowed many people not to take care of themselves and become vulnerable to contamination. No lie will convince a poison that it is nutritious food. Worse, saying that the pandemic must run wild for us to achieve herd immunity is a decision that covers up the truth that herd immunity in Brazil would cost approximately 2 million victims.

The issue here is that social networks are networks for disseminating fake news, among other reasons, because there is no verification mechanism. The press vehicles in general should be concerned with verifying the news, confronting the information with the facts and taking responsibility for the publication. People on social networks and the different possibilities of falsification allow information to spread that damage people, processes and institutions. Verification and accountability by the media is essential. The fact that YouTube is a collaborative platform cannot exempt it from creating verification mechanisms and from being held responsible for the spread of false news.

Rede Globo and CNN Brasil employing a fake news disseminator and giving him an anchor analyst audience is symptomatic: how much are these institutions interested in the dissemination of manipulative news?

Either the enlightened part of the population understands that it should not argue with another part of the population manipulated by fakenews and starts to focus its energies on the focus of lies and the manipulation strategy, or the damage caused by the lie will increase the condition of vulnerability of the greater part. part of the population; who may not associate their miserable condition with social networking strategies, but certainly feel it in the price of meat, in the worsening of employment conditions, in the exhausting day-to-day and in the worsening of everyday living conditions. It is now up to make the connection between the conditions of misery that are presented with those who want to convince us of our inhumanity.

*Luis Fernando Vitagliano is a political scientist and university professor.


List extracted from the newspaper “O Globo”: “Internet channels made money with fake news about Covid, informs Google to the CPI”, on 11/6/2021. Available in: https://blogs.oglobo.globo.com/sonar-a-escuta-das-redes/post/canais-na-internet-ganharam-dinheiro-com-fake-news-sobre-covid-informa-google-cpi.html


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