The fake news is flying like dust in the wind, Leopoldo Lopez has died. He was a jailed opposition leader from Venezuela. This is according to Leopoldo Castillo Globovision journalist, currently living in Miami. The unconfirm announcement is being retweet by people all over the world. The news was confirm by Marco Rubio, the US senator. Lopez’s nearly-dead body taken to Ramo Verde military hospitals.
People are angry at Nicolas Maduro’s government, accusing them of murder. Castillo’s bank account was hack to create discontent, according to some. Castillo refutes the suggestion, adding confusion to matters. Proofs of life are require. The government broadcasts a May 4 video that Lopez shows viewers on a television show hosted by Diosdado Cabello. He assures viewers that Lopez is alive and well, even though his family rushes to see him at the military hospital.
Castillo confirms Castillo’s death notice. People claim that the video is a montage. Lopez’s voice is not in it. Lilian Tintori, his wife, also doubts the video’s veracity. Experts add their opinion, stating that Lopez’s face was photohop onto another person’s body in order to fool Venezuelans.
Over the next few days, there is a general atmosphere of distrust and confusion. Tintori finally confirms on May 8 that she has seen her husband, and that he is alive and well.
This is only one example of how distorted media realities are shaking up Venezuela. A country that doesn’t really need any more shakeups. Just days before the Lopez disaster, Maria Corina Machado, an ex-senator who is also Vente Party leader, shows the country an image of a detention order that was allegedly issue from the public ministry. People become angry and plan solidarity marches to her defense. It turns out that the information was false.
Sources close to government share a photo showing hooded youths with bombs and revolvers. A few hours later, the same photo goes viral on social media. However, the men are not arm. Recent rumors suggest that the spotlights at the Presidential Palace were lit up because the government was anticipating a bombing. The lights came from the Caracas Theatre Festival.
Venezuelans live a daily life that is dominate by fake news. Unconfirmed and often suspicious information is the main source of reality in this nation in crisis. This creates anxiety and overwhelms our ability to process it. Alternative facts can distort perceptions or stoke disappointments. It all depends on what sources are available and how well one is able to discern truth from fiction.
Fake Media Under Threat
The media in Venezuela has been subject to immense pressure over the years, initially under Hugo Chavez, and now under the Maduro administration. Newspapers have been denied concessions, pressed to fire journalists who criticize the government, and even banned from purchasing newsprint to print their papers. In the last two years, at least 13 outlets closed down.
Another 25 papers, including El Universal (a 105-year-old newspaper critical of Chavismo), were sold to government-allied organizations, which reduced their editorial freedom.
This has led to increased self-censorship of the press, which further reduces citizens’ access to reliable information. We are presented with a fictional country that is free from social upheaval and does not have the same conflict as the one you see when you walk down the street.
Social media, with its inconsistent sources, constant contradictions and false clues as well as its distorted discourse, personal interests, and unreliable sources, doesn’t help. Venezuela is now in a war for information.
A Simmering Conflict
These difficult times are not yet well-recorded by historians. Is Venezuela actually at war? Is there a genuine, even low-level conflict in Venezuela? There is just too much violence. According to the Attorney General’s Office, Venezuela was one of the most dangerous countries in the world last year with more than 20,000 homicides. More than 30 people were killed in violent protests within the last two months.
Our war includes both psychological and physiological violence, as with all other wars. Venezuelans live in a constant state of need and uncertainty. It can be difficult to purchase bread, diapers, or medication. However, there is no shortage of upheaval that leaves little room for normalcy: dropping off your children at school, going on the movies, falling in LOVE, or planning for the future. We have become a deeply divided society that lives in the present, to the constant drumbeat of protests, repression, and information overload. It’s exhausting. Every day is a struggle.
Perverse Fake News Dynamic
A perverse news dynamic can make a bad situation worse. We are unable to discern fact from fiction because it is so difficult. Counter-marches and marches are announced. They don’t then happen. Events are called and then de-convened. People get angry at the injured and dead, and they estimate incorrectly in excess as well as in deficit.
This post-truth era is a syllabically construct historical revisionism. It is a bias-driven, vested interest-driven revisionism of what constitutes truth. Many of the news we receive is ideologically generate. Millions of Venezuelans want to believe rumours that the president’s relatives are fleeing the country, and that certain officials are being remove. They’re just rumors, and nothing more.
Fake news can come from many sources, some unidentified and most with vested interests in current conflicts. Terrorism and attacks on government officials are discuss because people hope that a military coup can end the chaos. Fear-mongers who speak of torture and kidnappings are stoking hatred among Venezuelans with little regard for the consequences.
Venezuelans face a difficult task today, with constant skirmishes and scarcity, as well as grief for the deceased, corruption, and fear for their lives. Fake news can polarize, alienate and anger us. It makes it less likely that we can find a peaceful and negotiated solution to this crisis. This is bad news for everyone.