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Saying that there is no silver bullet against fake news has become a mantra, which we repeat daily at Redes Cordiais. Much is said about regulatory or self-regulatory paths, demand for more transparency and accountability of platforms, journalism, verification agencies, media education for critical thinking and new technological tools as solutions to reduce the damage that disinformation causes in society. our public, physical and mental health. Recent studies show that the polarization of society is also a determining factor that cannot be left out of this equation.
The research Partisan Polarization Is the Primary Psychological Motivation behind Political Fake News Sharing on Twitter, published by the American Political Science Review in August of last year, reveals that the degree of polarization of the individual is the main psychological factor behind the sharing of fake news. .
By scraping data from more than 2.4 million tweets from 2,300 Americans, it was discovered that sharing fake news has less to do with education and more to do with partisan political convictions and users' constant quest to defame and attack. your opponents. Individuals who report hating their political opponents are the most likely to share fake political news and selective content useful to attack political rivals.
According to the same survey, while supporters of the Republican Party are more likely to share fake news than those of the Democratic Party, the sharing of such material is a bipartisan phenomenon. The article hypothesizes — without confirming it — that the difference lies in the sources of information available to supporters on either side of the political spectrum. Both Democrats and Republicans seek material to confirm their biases and attack their political opponent. However, in that quest, Republicans would be forced to look to the extreme of fake news to confirm their views. Democrats, on the other hand, do not need to resort to hyper-partisan channels as much as they find content in the traditional press, with a mostly progressive bias, to confirm their points of view.
Seen from this perspective, the spread of fake news would not be an endogenous phenomenon to human communication (or not only), but also a symptom of our polarized societies — which complicates our search for solutions and public policies.
The problem is that, while we try to resolve the harmful effects of information clutter in real time, disinforming agents successfully act to divide and intensify the polarization of society. That is, they take advantage of the innate human tendency to polarize. In this way, they not only make us all more vulnerable, but also more likely to share misinformation. It is not by chance that disinformation agents begin to spread fake news within partisan groups that already agree with those ideas and will not contest them.
Quiz do Nosso Papo Reto encourages dialogue by demonstrating that there are more opinions that bring Brazilians closer together than separate them. Click and play!
The strategy is right, as disinformation needs receptive groups to go viral. And more than that, it goes viral on “peer-to-peer” networks, where trust in the messenger is high. In other words, the human factor is fundamental to create the cascades of viralization of fake news. Robots alone are not capable of viralizing false information. If it were possible, at least in the virtual world, Russian President Vladimir Putin would have already won the war of narratives with his army of trolls. But, as Christine Bragale of the News Literacy Project, an organization dedicated to teaching students to distinguish facts from lies, recalls, “people think that false information is spread by bad people, robots, but it is ordinary people, like you and me, who spread misinformation. They are our parents, uncles, co-workers.”
And anyone who thinks that our relationship with facts is rational is wrong. If that were the case, it would be enough to clarify fake news and teach everyone how to identify fake news and the problem would be solved. But facts don't change our minds because our relationship with information is emotional. But the human being, when he is taken by emotions, does not make good decisions. Our critical sense fails and in this we are more easily deceived. Disinformation agents know this and manipulate us through our feelings and innate tendency to polarize.


Mr. Alessandro Jacob speaking about Brazilian Law on "International Bar Association" conference

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