Behind disinformation tendencies lie the intentions of groups of people who seek: to promote or denigrate a cause, to spread distrust in a society's institutions, and to spread or perpetuate confusion about one issue or another. These topics were addressed by Veaceslav Berbeca, expert at the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) "Viitorul", during sessions III and IV of the training programme on critical thinking, media literacy, analysis, resisting misinformation and reflecting public interest information in an unbiased way, held on Thursday 4 May.
According to Veaceslav Berbeca, misinformation is the release or promotion of false, inaccurate or misleading information designed, presented and promoted to intentionally cause public harm or profit. It can also be a certain type of special operation that consists of deceiving the opponent by providing false information that the opponent will use to draw conclusions desired by the insider. Veaceslav Berbeca pointed out that the development of public opinion, the invention of radio, television and the internet are phenomena that have contributed to the spread of disinformation.
The expert believes that, in general, there are several types of disinformation strategies and that they focus either on false identities, or on emotional content, polarization, conspiracy theories, discrediting opponents, labeling the opponent, attacking the person, but also trolling. According to Veaceslav Berbeca, there are also several methods of misinformation, namely denying and reversing things, mixing truth and lies, distorting reason and circumstances, and generalization. Veaceslav Berbeca also said that the spheres or areas currently targeted by disinformation and propaganda are: traditional media and social networks; ideology and culture; crime and corruption; and energy resources.
"This session confirmed to me that it is not fear, uncertainty, happiness or excitement that should overwhelm us upon hearing any information disseminated in the public space, but many questions: who said it? For what purpose did he say it? Why did he say it just now, and the list of questions gets longer and longer as you start to get answers to the essential questions. Truth is one, versions are many. The age of a piece of information does not make it true. We don't have time to live a lie, so we have to find time to analyze", says Maria Nistor, a participant in the programme.
"Education of citizens in the field of disinformation, the history of disinformation, the phenomena that contributed to its propagation, its objectives and strategies, the building blocks and methods of disinformation are already a necessity. For me personally, the choice of analyzing disinformation trends, manipulative or fake news was an assumed one, given that we can no longer oppose it through silence. In order to engage in educating critical thinking about citizens we need to be prepared", says Irina Bejan, another participant of the training programme.
The following sessions will discuss techniques to combat disinformation; false information as part of disinformation; international experience and best practices in combating disinformation. Participants will also be trained on fact-checking; the specifics of online disinformation; the role of new technologies in disinformation campaigns; and the role of journalists in combating disinformation, etc.
The project "Supporting Critical Thinking and Resisting Disinformation in the Republic of Moldova", implemented by IDIS "Viitorul" from January 2023 to October 2024, is financially supported by the Embassy of Finland in Bucharest.
IDIS "Viitorul" is an independent think tank established in 1993 that combines social, political and economic research with strong advocacy components. The institution conducts applied monitoring research on several areas: economics, social policy, EU policies, regional development, but also security and foreign policy risks.
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