False news proliferating online during Cuba protests Media news


The government says they are spread by the counter-revolutionaries, while critics say they are the same authorities.

Fake news has spread quickly after unpublished protests in Cuba. Among them: former President Raul Castro had fled to ally with Venezuela, protesters had kidnapped a leader of the provincial Communist Party and Caracas was sending troops.

He Cuban government he said they were spread by counter-revolutionaries, while critics with the government said they could come from the same authorities. Neither provided evidence of their claims and the Reuters news agency was unable to determine the origins of the stories.

The government said the stories, which spread on social media and messaging apps on Sunday, were part of a broader attempt by counterrevolutionaries to destabilize the country, backed by the United States.

“What slander, what lies,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Wednesday afternoon, exposing some of the fake news at a televised roundtable. “The way they use social media is poisonous and alienating.”

“It’s an expression of media terrorism,” he said.

Government critics said authorities could plant the stories in muddy waters in line with misinformation and sow confusion so that no one would trust future news of unrest.

“Often, state security launches such rumors to say later that they are foreign-directed campaigns to manipulate Cubans, so people stop trusting information circulating outside government control.” wrote Mexican communications specialist Jose Raúl Gallego on Facebook.

The government and some of its top critics urged Cubans to be careful not to share unverified information. Some of the stories were amplified by Cubans abroad who encouraged the protests.

The proliferation of videos and fabricated or misleading content on social media has become a common feature of social protests around the world in recent years, including in Chile, Bolivia, the United States, and France.

Thousands took to the streets in cities across Cuba last Sunday to protest power cuts, a rise in COVID-19, widespread commodity shortages and the one-party system.

These protests, the largest in decades in Cuba, where public dissent is restricted, disappeared this week as security forces were deployed and government supporters mobilized.

The first reports of protests on Sunday were also quickly followed by internet outages and restrictions on social media and messaging platforms. Service was slowly returning to normal on Friday.

The introduction of mobile internet just over two years ago and the consequent flourishing of social media and independent news media in Cuba have been a key factor behind the protests.

These tools have provided Cubans with a platform to share and expand their frustrations and have allowed the word to come out quickly when people are on the street, analysts say. Many Cubans met Sunday’s protests on messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook.

Musician Alexander Delgado, a member of the Cuban reggaeton band Gente de Zona, participates in a solidarity rally with protesters in Cuba, in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, USA. [Marco Bello/Reuters]

But the Cuban government, which has long had a media monopoly, warned citizens not to believe news and images shared on social media that could have been manipulated.

Shared posts thousands of times in recent days have been mislabeled as Cuban protests. Some included photographs showing a large crowd during Cuba’s May 1, 2018 march or a protest in Egypt in 2011.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez accused social media platforms of generally initiating investigations into alleged false news when they harmed the “powerful.”

“It is known which monopolies operate in the digital space … how they work, in which countries they are headquartered … and how much politics happens,” he told an information session on Tuesday.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reinaldo Escobar, editor of the independent news site 14ymedio, said that regardless of who posted the fake news and the motivation, many Cubans now had direct experience of participating in or observing genuine spontaneous demonstrations.

“This massive exit from the closet of fear will have consequences,” he said.

Source link