May 25, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Fake news and military disinformation

The internet has been flooded with fake news, videos and photographs purporting to show scenes of a Hamas terrorist attack or the Israeli Air Force responding. At the same time, both sides use every opportunity to incite the hatred of their fellow citizens towards the enemy, without thinking at all about the consequences.

The current war between Israel and Palestine is no different from previous wars, about which the Chinese commander Sun Tzu declared more than 2 thousand years ago: “war is the path of deception.” At the same time, the phrase of the father of modern propaganda, Dr. Goebbels – “the more monstrous the lie, the more willingly they will believe it” – is now more relevant than ever.

The Internet is flooded with fake news. These materials are intentionally or unintentionally replicated by ordinary Twitter, TikTok users, politicians, analysts, or popular accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers. A significant portion of them end up on news sites and even traditional media, creating a distorted picture of the dramatic events taking place in the Middle East in recent hours. They are mainly used for propaganda purposes, facilitating the conduct of psychological operations aimed primarily at the morale of the enemy.

“Penetration” from the air
One of the most “trending” fake news stories of recent hours shows dozens of paratroopers, allegedly Al-Qassam terrorists, invading Israeli territory. It is true that the terrorists used non-standard means, such as civilian gliders and well-known paragliders, but this video is an excerpt from an Egyptian special forces training. A more attentive viewer will see the coat of arms and flag of the Egyptian Military Academy, as well as the colors of the Egyptian flag on the parachutes of the soldiers.

“Rally” in Istanbul
On Sunday evening, a video appeared online showing thousands of Turks holding a rally in Istanbul outside the Israeli diplomatic office demanding the sending of troops to the Gaza Strip. This “news” was widely circulated on Greek Twitter, but in fact we are talking about a rally that took place in 2021.

Video with children

Social media is flooded with images and videos of families, elderly people and young children kidnapped by Islamist terrorists. However, two videos do not appear to be related to events in Israel and the Gaza Strip. One of them shows the beheading of a small child by terrorists. We are talking about an incident that occurred in 2016 and involved the murder of a 12-year-old Syrian boy by members of the Nur ad-Din al-Zinki group. The video was removed from the X site because it violated the platform’s rules.

The second video shows children in cages marked as children of Israeli families. However, in reality we are talking about an incident that occurred in Syria in 2016. The video received millions of views and appeared on several accounts.

“Viral Videos” on TikTok
The most popular platform from which fake news is spread is TikTok as this is where most videos are uploaded. As with the Russian-Ukrainian war, TikTok is used by millions of users to upload their videos from the “front lines” as the app’s algorithm directs them to people who are not necessarily “followers” and as a result they go viral in a short period of time. However, there are also no filters to check the accuracy of the content, so the application is one of the main vehicles for intentional or unintentional misinformation.

The brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg, which, according to words former employee Frances Haugen, prioritizes profit over the safety and well-being of users, and Facebook’s algorithms are set to incite hatred. This is why the social network so easily absorbs fake news and then offers it to its users.

Now we can say that the fake vision of the world has become stronger than the real one. “Life has become better, life has become more fun,” said Comrade Stalin, and propaganda began to repeat it. And the more often an individual heard this, the more he wanted to accept it as the truth. Psychologists believe that the truth is what is most easily perceived because there is no doubt about its authenticity.

In fact, the user of social networks and the media consciously seeks out what suits his worldview and puts aside what he does not like. Over the past 2 years, this has been particularly evident in the situation with the G5 and coronavirus.

Firstly, the fake is made according to patterns that create interest for our brain. We are more interested in the negative than the positive, and fake gives us that. Therefore, it moves through social networks three to four times faster (so-called viral promotion) than any truth, as a result reaching many more people.

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Secondly, a fake will always outpace the truth in terms of speed of spread, since in traditional media there is an element of verification of authenticity. Until confirmation is received from several sources, no one trumpets this all over the world (unless a special temnik has been received on this topic from the owner of the publication or the authorities).

Third fake news, like conspiracy theories, is based on our confidence that they want to hide something very important from us. And now the fakes reveal this truth, and the traditional media, of course, will remain silent about it, because they were bought by the authorities and the oligarchs.

“The truth is somewhere close,” they whispered to us in the TV series about aliens “Top Secret.” It is in this gray area that fakes live. They look like the truth, but they are not the truth. They are difficult to refute, but also difficult to prove. They are something third – not the truth, not a lie, but… a fake – a lie dressed up in the clothes of truth. But they greet you based on their clothes…

A fake, like a political joke from Soviet times, opens up an alternative reality to the mass consciousness. They fought with jokes, but to no avail; they still existed. They fight fakes with the same failure. However, they will be, including because anti-fake websites are read by professional anti-fake fighters, and not by the population, which is more concerned about the fakes themselves.

The war will end sooner or later, and then we have to live with it…

I understand that “war is a path of deception,” but let’s try to be objective and perceive propaganda with a sober head, and not stoop to animal instincts. After all, the war will end, sooner or later, and then we have to live with it.

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