Photo: retrieved

With traditional media like newspapers under control, the government wants the same in the digital world: from arresting social network users like AereoMeteo, to tampering with access to key websites like Google, the communicational hegemony keeps pushing through.

But one of its larger objectives has been controlling the conversation on what German philosopher Jürgen Habermas called the “public sphere”. Now a brand new study is here, describing how this effort is being made.

With traditional media like newspapers under control, the government wants the same in the digital world.

Venezuelan researcher Iria Puyosa and the Observatory of (Mis)information and Propaganda in Latin America released last month a report titled “Chavismo’s Information War Strategies on Twitter,” in which a large number of the State’s official accounts and organized users were followed during the period of May to August 2018, especially regarding the May 20 “election”.

“Three strategies used by the Venezuelan government on Twitter during this period were identified as the following:

1) Coordination of official and automated accounts to assure reaching the daily trending topics;

2) Promotion of distracting hashtags accompanied by emotional, scandalous, misleading, offensive, and/or false messages through cyborg and bot accounts;

3) Hijacking of opposition hashtags to distort their messages and interfere in the conversations of the various opposition communities.”

For example, the large bulk of government accounts (from different branches) focused in pushing favorable hashtags to dominate the list of popular trending topics. Key players on this were accounts related to the CLAP food program and the carnet de la patria.

This shows how the government quickly spreads their messages about events like the alleged drone attack of August 4, and the “confession” of jailed deputy Juan Resquens days later.

More worrisome is another strategy at work: the coordinated diffusion of fake news and misinformation, to disrupt discussions in social networks over issues of public interest, by meddling with opposition-related groups and positioning false accounts and phony hashtags.

The “fake news” phenomenon is already making inroads around the region.

The “fake news” phenomenon is already making inroads around the region: One of the most visible cases is Brazil, which celebrates a contentious presidential election this Sunday. 24 media outlets joined forces to push back by establishing the fact-checking site Comprova.

But the effort of countering misinformation cannot fall on media outlets alone. Social media users should be cautious with the news they handle and share, even if they don’t have the means to check the accuracy of every tweet, viral video or voice note. Look for trusted sources and be responsible. Especially regarding Venezuela, where those options are very limited.

The full report is available in both English and Spanish. It’s well worth a read.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. “With traditional media like newspapers under control, the government wants the same in the digital world.”

    Well, Gustavo, they sure have some control of the ‘digital world’, you, Gustavo, for example, calling a despicable, criminal, genocidal tyranny “The Government”.

    When will the ‘media’ realize they can call a cat for what it is, a cat? Dignifying such putrid Narco-Kleptocracy with words like “Gobierno” (when ‘Desgobierno is also in the fucking dictionary, use it!), “the authorities” “the guardia nacional bolivariana” or the “President” instead of the DICTATOR. Or better yet, “the corrupt, illiterate tyrant”.

    You can’t even bring yourself to call the filthy chavistoide thugs a freaking REGIME. No, you have to help solidify it, reinforce its validity, lending a sense of legitimacy by constantly utilizing the wrong words.

    Is it illegal to call a spade a spade? Is it misrepresentation of the truth? Is it twisting the facts? I dunno where all these ‘digital’ writers, and in general, the so-called ‘opposition’ media went to school. But one of the first things they taught me way before college was the word “CONNOTATION”. Look it up.

    Makes me sick every time the uneducated pueblo-people regurgitates the words educated ‘digital’ writers keep repeating, “El Gobielno”.. “Las autoridade” “La Gualdia” “El Presidente Maduro”.. He’s an illegal, illegitimate, Colombian monkey, a criminal and a thief, a murderer, comprende? it ain’t no “government” it’s a bunch of criminal thugs.

      • Sure it is. “Governments” come in many forms, some of them tyrannical. Actually “the etymology of the word ‘government’ has been well established with GOVERN meaning to ‘control or steer’ and MENT derived from Latin meaning ‘mind.’ Therefore, a direct etymological deconstruction of the word GOVERNMENT yields us the term ‘mind control.”

        In this sense Castro-Chavismo is some sort of ‘government’. It sure has brain-washed millions of uneducated pueblo-people. The more educated people are, the less ‘government’ they need. What populist dictatorships do is expand such ‘governments’ exponentially, with millions of complicit, corrupt Enchufados and simple, poor mental slaves. The very definition of Kleptozuela today.

        What I mean, of course, is we should avoid such umbrella terms, because they lend authority and legitimacy to the usurping/illegal criminals in power. The clueless ‘pueblo’ then continues to perceive the mighty “gobielno nasional’ as an unmovable entity, as if directly entitled by the gods (Bolivar/Chavez..Maria Lionza and what have you..) to do whatever they want. They think of “El Presidente” as a powerful figure, backed by God and Chabestia themselves, even if he’s just another illiterate criminal from Petare or Barranquilla.

        The media should refer to the governing bunch of criminals with derogative terms that actually define their real attributes much more accurately. ‘Criminal Regime’, ‘Dictatorship’ at the very least. Or “Kleptocracy” which is the most accurate single word on the dictionary to describe the arroz con mango they have in Narco-Chinazuela. BECAUSE of the powerful connotations such words have on the uneducated public psyche of clueless, highly corruptible zombie masses such as our beloved ‘bravo pueblo’. If you keep calling them “regime’, ‘dictatorship” “tyranny” in the media, it makes a big psychological difference overall, nationally and internationally. Why not use words that describe them more accurately while serving your redeeming purposes of freedom and ‘government’ change?

        Why not? I’ll tell you why. Because most media people want to sound ‘professional’ and ‘unbiased’, objective reporters and shit like that. That’s why. Unknowingly, because of their own pride and personal aspirations, what they do is help cement a Criminal Regime.

  2. “Social media users should be cautious with the news they handle and share, even if they don’t have the means to check the accuracy of every tweet, viral video or voice note. Look for trusted sources and be responsible. Especially regarding Venezuela, where those options are very limited.”

    That’s a small minority of the clueless populace. What % of the remaining adult populace uses social media and has open internet access, a laptop or even a smart phone with some Data? Can they read proper Spanish (let alone English), can they rationalize an elaborate thought or social analysis? Do they have the slightest critical thinking skills, the ability to think for themselves? You wish..

    Chavismo won the Media War a longtime ago. Like everything in Kleptozuela it was won through crime, by force, or by BRIBING thousands of people. That’s how they controlled the printed media and TV. And radio, which are, by FAAAAAAR what El Pueblo gets. Not Bloomberg’s latest data analysis on the macro-economic impact of a potential gas price increase. They won that war also by BRIBING el Pueblo itself, paying them to go on rallies, door-to-door with chavistoide/castrista communist propaganda.

    That is the Target Audience: the clueless, uneducated, often corrupt average pueblo-people. The adults that haven’t left yet. Their own millions of chavistoide enchufados, and their families, and their kids, the next generation of clueless zombies. They don’t give a rat’s ass about what the world thinks anymore, or what a couple million of somewhat educated exiles may read or watch online. Any reasonably well educated person can quickly discern between manipulated Chavistoide crap in the media, and independent voices. That ship sailed long ago, which is one of the reasons clueless hordes of misinformed zombies are basically all that’s left in Klepto-Chinazuela. In large part, because of their own complicity and stupidity.

  3. “The “fake news” phenomenon is already making inroads around the region: One of the most visible cases is Brazil”

    What happens in Brazil is the leftist media and its bribed polls lying about Bolsonaro 24/7, but after noticing that we, the radicalized and tired masses, are not buying their lies anymore, they sent one of them with a knife to kill our candidate. In short, that’s the true story.

    Also, a Bolso/Trump alliance is basically the only thing that can save Venezuela at this point, as both are for a military intervention. The thing is: is Venezuela still worth being saved?

    If you don’t think so, just hope that Maduro’s candidate (Haddad) wins, and then just witness Venezuela and the poor souls still there burning for another decade or more from your US suburban comfortable homes.

  4. After 20 years of listening to constant misinformation , deceits and lies which times reveals as such , the capacity of govt efforts at convincing anyone of what they say is about nill, the information has to come thru some source not linked to the regime even remotely otherwise people just turn a deaf ear and make wisecracks about the regimes miserable attempts at misinformation…..The only way you can believe what the govt tells you is if you WANT to believe it because identifying with the regime gives you the hibbies ……..There are still some around , people whose credibility and sadomasochism or sheer stupidity makes them believe anything the govt offers them .

    • I agree with you Bill, I don’t think most Venezuelans are fooled, only the very fanatical remain that will accept it because they feel some sort of loyalty I guess. Stubborn people. The rest of Venezuela will throw a huge party the day the mad man is ousted and proclaim it a new national holiday. And they know that they have to do it way different this time. Chavista is rapidly becoming a rude insult to someone bullheaded who still believes in any part of this “process”.

  5. “…because they feel some sort of loyalty I guess. Stubborn people.”

    Oh no. It ain’t stubbornness. Its wealth envy and class hatred. Throw in the Latin American version of schadenfreude for good measure. Vast swaths of El Pueblo will gladly wallow in despair and hardship, providing that their despised class enemy, The Achievers get a vicious kick in the huevos.

    I had some Rojito Rojo in-laws who opened my eyes to that.

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