How is media deception built? Isn’t freedom of the press just the freedom of the owners of the press?
Communication and manipulation
Never in history has there been so much information. We are now invaded 24 hours a day by a flow of information. Never has the world been so full of publications as it has been since social media has existed. Never have so many people dedicated themselves to informing and communicating. Yet, never has there been so much disinformation, never had the truth been overwhelmed by post-truth as in this historical phase.
On the economic-structural level it must be said that the exponential growth of information sources has transformed their nature. For the dominant system, information has passed from superstructure to structure, from a necessary cost for ideological affiliation to a primary business. The main companies in the sector are in fact among the top 10 turnover in the world. The accumulation of wealth has thus been combined with political consensus and the excellent fulfillment of the capitalist design has been achieved: from generating profit to indoctrinating, we have moved on to indoctrination as the primary source of profit.
However, information, its methods and the structures on which it is based are not a financial project for its own sake. Although with infinite means available thanks to the discovery of the Net and with resources unthinkable up to 30 years ago, information plays exactly the same role: orienting the market for the circulation of ideas, of building consensus on the dominant system. More than information, the media provides training.
Information and communication
In 1961, the American sociologist Marshall Mc Luhan, commonly defined as one of the founding fathers of modern communication, wrote in his book entitled “The global village” that the world, thanks to the tools of modern communication (written press, radio and TV) underwent a profound change, but the real evolution had been possible thanks to the arrival of satellites, capable of communicating and transmitting images in real time and at great distances. The world has become an infinitely smaller place, therefore the content of the generic message can be spread everywhere thanks to the common ideological identity of the main stream and received for the homogeneity of public opinion.
The medium is the message because its particular narrative structure makes it “non-neutral” and the possession of information sources becomes a priority over the content that is published there. Why this? Because the media does not just report events but constructs them; it does not report facts but builds opinions independently of the facts; because it censors what is not functional to the message it wants to convey; because by sensingly orienting public opinion it engulfs reason and emotions. After all, the ability to decompose and recompose data, to build and deconstruct links, to elaborate theories in substitution of news, is possible only with the material possession of the media or with their absolute control, be it direct or even indirect ownership (financial control ).
It is therefore no coincidence that over the past 30 years, the strong international powers have invested large sums in the purchase of newspapers, TV, radio and on the Internet. The occupation of the available information spaces has been almost total and today it is estimated that 91% of the words written and spoken to the public have as their vehicle, the media belonging to Western financial and political forces. There are no signs of rebalancing, if we exceed the three international channels such as RT, Tele Sur and Hispan TV. But, unlike Western channels, which have uniqueness of images and contents, the three aforementioned channels are in any case affected by the political positions of their respective publishing countries.
Lying, manipulating, building
Consensus building, even more so for a system that is going through a structural and non-conjunctural crisis, is a vital element for its defense. Denying, minimizing, magnifying: everything serves to build a representation of reality consistent with the message you want to provide. Because despite everything, public opinion continues to have a weight in political decisions and therefore influencing their ideas and perceptions is a task of primary importance.
Just like a commercial product, news is sold by building the relationship between supply and demand, where, however, not only does demand generate supply but, through media campaigns that provide for the penetration of concepts and the formation of opinions, it is in increasingly common supply to generate on demand. But unlike radio, TV and newspapers, Internet is interactive and transforms the user into an interlocutor.
After all, Mc Luhan always said that communication could be built on the extensions of the senses of man and each medium, when it extends a sense, involves a real drowsiness of the others, thus altering the sensorial balance. For this purpose, communication strategies are prepared. Through a series of techniques the cognitive aspects are contained and the sensory aspects are stimulated. In fact, information is processed and sold with marketing strategies based on hidden persuasion, on the superimposition of feeling and perceiving, of seeing and understanding, of listening and feeling. Precisely for this reason the video component has taken on much more importance than the texts.
Not everything is simple, in the age of mass information we are not always able to communicate: crucial for the penetration of the message is that a shared code is established between the transmitter and the receiver, otherwise there is no return. Well, the shared code cannot have as a reference analysis, knowledge, general culture of events, because this would produce a dystonia between the different cultural levels inherent in the user. Therefore, precisely because the goal is to reach the totality of public opinion, to reduce the gap between the message and the end user, we are working on the unification of language.
To achieve this, we work on comprehensive immediacy, which is a substantial part of spreading the message. For this we use short and elementary messages, with memes and images, with emoticons and graphics. Subliminal persuasion is built through the induction of suggestions, impressions. The method is always to keep the cognitive level low and raise the emotional one. Amazement is sought to generate disbelief which is then transformed into dismay; an overturned reality is built to build indignation, then the indignation is processed for the next phase, that of indirect action, followed by the direct one. The ultimate goal is not just to generate ideas or opinions: the truly strategic one is the formation of common sense. It is the common sense that is transmitted even in the absence of an elaboration, of a complete thought, of a consolidated opinion built on the analysis of historical and contemporary facts.
Disinformation, like information, serves to build an opinion that produces consent to the political and social choices of those who manage the sources. Disinformation has always been an element present in communication strategies but the advent of social media and the so-called “citizen journalists” has been the main vehicle for the diffusion of liberal ideology. If you think that until the advent of the Internet, one in thirty citizens regularly read a newspaper while now one in two has an Internet connection and over 3 billion users have messaging systems, we understand how and to what extent the Internet is the ground. crucial of the clash between truth and falsification of the same. The immediacy of the messages, the quantity of them that makes any verification impossible, and the technical ability to manipulate images and audio, to build opinions on the basis of completely altered or even invented data, are the terrain on which disinformation wins. Therefore, it is a decisive battleground for those seeking to free themselves from the media scam.
Through social media, content apparently managed by users is created, shared and exchanged. But that of the “citizen Journalist” is mythology, since not even one percent of users produce information (if anything, opinions) and that the proprietary and authoritarian management of providers such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube denies freedom of expression at its root. Social media is actually an extension of the propaganda machine of the United States and its allies. The question is therefore to decide how to relate to them, because ignoring their existence and the capacity for mass penetration would be the most serious of errors.
The methods of media deception
There are three possible types of narration: information, communication, propaganda. The first can be summed up in the provision of data (I’ll tell you what you don’t know). The second is active interaction (what you understand), the third is the transformation of reality into consensus (what I want you to understand). The biggest pitfall comes from information and communication, since propaganda is often easily identifiable. Communication needs, on the part of the recipient, the predisposition to the role of interlocutor, and this does not always happen. Information, on the other hand, is more difficult to unmask, because it apparently arrives in neutral form in and easily intercepts the receptors.
The reception of information activates the cognitive part both of individuals individually understood as of the masses. If in a position to receive information useful for forming an opinion, they represent a danger for those who act behind and against the interests of the less powerful classes. Changing the mentality also involves changing knowledge. For this reason, one of the decisive steps in the strategies of mass manipulation is the progressive cancellation of shared memory. The reset of history that is written no longer and not only by whoever wins but by whoever holds the information system. Erasing the memory of a country is essential to rewriting its history.
Information is a substantial part of the weapons systems that are used in the so-called hybrid wars, or the fourth and fifth generation wars.
Nicaragua has been one of the main fields of application not only of the bland coup method, but also of cyber and cyber warfare.
In Nicaragua, for example, we have seen the fury with which the liberal government of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro undertook to destroy the effigies of the Sandinista martyrs, eliminating murals, changing the names of streets, squares and public structures that recalled their sacrifice . Those names indicated above all to the successive generations what was the role of the FSLN in the liberation of the country and to demolish its symbols had the purpose of destroying its memory. Because even just a repeated road sign makes that name a piece of collective memory. Symbols have a value that transcends the mere gesture that transformed them from men to heroes: their evocation is an accumulation of strength and their destruction the manifestation of fear.
Removing the shared history means creating a trauma in the memory, an interruption of the generational transmission of knowledge, a friction in the emotional succession that the name and the related story has aroused. In short, a memory is interrupted, but without memory there is no history and without history the difference between just and unjust, between executioners and victims, between responsibility and merit, between heroes and criminals disappears. In this sense, the memory of the ephemeris has an important value, because it eliminates oblivion and erases the indistinct.
On another level, think of the messages that the coup leaders spread during the attempted coup of 2018. There were two main memes: that they were students and not criminals; that Ortega and Somoza are the same thing. Both are blatant lies, artfully constructed hyperbole, since it is precisely the total denial of this nonsense that is truth in itself. In fact, they were criminals and not students and Ortega is the exact opposite of Somoza. But what was the connection between the two memes? That the repression of students (as during Somozism) saw Sandinismo in the squares. In other words, an attempt was made to convey the message that the coup leaders were assigned to Sandinismo and the post 1994 Sandinismo to Somozismo. Why?
Not for Nicaraguans, who knew very well how things were, but for international public opinion, whose instinct was to believe in the narrative of the victim who became the executioner, one of the most widespread myths of international literature and comics. In recounting this, an instinctive willingness to believe in a reality different from the one known in the 1980s was perceived, but which was perfectly combined with the radical change that occurred in the ideas of those who listened to him. After all, having betrayed the ideals of youth made it perfectly compatible that the same had happened in Nicaragua.
The ability to construct information that is truthful, credible and honestly anchored to respect for the facts is a prerequisite for their interpretation. Sandinismo has offered evidence of extraordinary skill in constructing explanatory and positive messages, offered in a Western narrative style and difficult to manipulate because it is supported by data. The oligarchic media paid for by the USA are in fact forced to prevaricate reality as they do not have a parallel reality to tell. The vigilance on the spread of lies is an integral part of the defense of national security, therefore a consistent part of national sovereignty. In this sense, training in the guerrilla web and putting positive messages on the air produces a natural defense against disinformation. It is precisely in the widespread information society that we must not lose the ability to communicate.
English translation of an article by Fabrizio Casari, director of the indipendent news portal AltreNotizie.org, appeared on Revista Nicaragua Sandino.
Here the original version (Spanish): http://nicaraguasandino.com/comunicacion-y-manipulacion/ .
Cover photo by Beeple, aka Mike Winkelmann.
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