freedom to hate

There were many who, during the isolated protest in Cuba last Saturday (May 6), demanded an invasion from their comfortable sofas in Florida. The incident took place in Caymaner, a city of about 10,000 people, with a semi-desert geography, and heavily affected by the economic crisis that has gripped the island due to the blockade. Of the 361 square kilometers belonging to the municipality of the same name, 115 are occupied by the naval base of Guantanamo, which the United States maintains against the will of the Cubans.

The peaceful demonstration, whose main demand was the delivery of food, lasted just over an hour, and a small part of the inhabitants took part in it. Very few live stream or post comments on Facebook, and not for lack of opportunity or access, as Internet penetration exceeds two-thirds of the population. With little evidence and big interventionist fantasies, a foreign influence network operation turned 60 minutes of protest into three days of digital riot. And I say “foreign” because less than five percent of the content posted on Twitter and Facebook comes from the Island, and if you look at the conversation with the word “Caymanera”, anyone can see that most of the Cubans who mention it are not against the government .

Since the existence of social platforms, political mobilizations in the country are usually accompanied by local citizens in about nine messages originating in internal networks from external ones. Only in a few cases has this not been the case, such as in Bolivia in 2019, when over 68,000 fake Twitter accounts were mysteriously created to make it look like the people were supporting a coup against Evo Morales. Or in Iran, during the so-called Twitter Revolution or Iranian Green Revolution of 2009, when more than 60 percent of anti-government messages came from US users. An analysis by Business Week published in June of that year showed that less than 100 users spoke out against the government in Iran out of 8,000 who were active in that country at the time.

Since then, online hate speech has faced particular challenges due to the uniqueness of the web. Its transnational nature makes cyberspace a place over which national governments have little control over, or worse, they are de facto subject to US laws that govern the major social platforms that control 80 percent of the world. waking time of Internet users in the world. As researcher Zeynep Tufekci recalls in his book Twitter and Tear Gas: The Strength and Fragility of Online Protests (2017), these companies are implicitly on the State Department’s “sponsors of terrorism” list, so it is particularly vigilant of organizations and countries that appear on the government agency’s annual list. In almost any country that is Washington’s enemy, Tufekci adds, “the people most likely to be on Twitter and Facebook are often the ones on one side of the conflict, the side with the most power and privilege.”

The proprietary, opaque, and customizable nature of algorithmic control on the web makes it difficult to understand what influences visibility on platforms, what numbers of people see, and how and why. Unlike open television, which broadcasts the same thing for everyone. However, even this nebula does not explain the extremely strange processes taking place in the Cuban digital territory. In Caimanera, for example, 12 minutes was enough for a Facebook direct to reach thousands of views. The user who posted it barely had a hundred followers.

If it weren’t for Cuba, some expert would probably be surprised by these statistics and the zeal with which some Americans, most of whom live in Miami, provoke outbreaks of violence, civil wars, and even invasions beyond their borders. Perhaps I could even connect these groups to the reactionary libertarianism that led to the capture of the Capitol in January 2020, more or less conscious followers of the Hitler model, which they sometimes parody in their facial expressions and gestures.

A few days ago, political communications expert Antoni Gutierrez-Ruby drew attention to the naturalization of excesses in networks in the name of freedom. “In a screaming society, insults and lies only seem louder,” he says. And yelling on Twitter about invading a neighboring country while eating pizza is something quite normal. (taken from La Jornada)

Source: Juventud Rebelde


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Read More