Fake news used to discredit minorities

Steno Sari

by Steno Sari — George Orwell wrote: "In times of universal lies, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
Lately I often cite Treccani [encyclopedia] to deepen a topic, outline the hidden or revealed meaning of an expression, and reveal its beauty or its dangerousness. Today I would like to talk about fake news, about this unstoppable tide of false news that is drowning our civil life.

What is fake news? Treccani defines it as «information that is partially or totally untrue, spread intentionally or unintentionally through the Web, the media or digital communication technologies, and characterized by an apparent plausibility, the latter fueled by a distorted system of public opinion expectations and by an amplification of the underlying prejudices, which facilitates its sharing and dissemination even in the absence of verification of the sources ".

In short, fake news is false truths, the dramatic outcome of sick information that too often considers the concrete analysis and rigorous verification of the facts a matter of secondary importance.

We live in the time of post-truth. With this recently coined fascinating term, we allude to the phenomenon whereby news, even if false, is perceived as true due to the media amplification. But why is this misleading news spread? "To obtain an easy profit", underlines a research of the Permanent Young Publishers Observatory. And this "for political or cultural reasons, for economic reasons, to destabilize an environment, to make fun of certain social groups".

Fake news can not only bring down the powerful, but also push the weaker to crush. In this regard, a recent report by the USCIRF, an independent and bipartisan commission of the United States government, has unmasked a phenomenon still generally unknown to public opinion, that of the so-called "anti-cult movements", associations that engage in "a very effective information war against religious minorities", such as to influence public opinion in many countries. "While claiming to be experts in academic fields such as religious studies, psychology and sociology, rarely [the exponents of such movements] are qualified to deal with any field of this kind, and often rely on theories and methodologies now discredited, to carry out their ideological designs." Such movements would spread fake news to induce the authorities to limit the freedoms of certain religious groups.

Article published by Libero on 20 August 2020 and republished with the author's permission

This article by journalist Steno Sari is perfectly in line with what we have been saying for some time about the deleterious effects of fake news to the detriment of fundamental freedoms. Pressure groups – the so-called “anti-cults" – too often pair with complacent journalists to trample the freedom to believe by instigating superficial politicians and administrators incapable to observe beyond the fake news, assuming they want to do it. Mala tempora currunt (bad times run), with all due respect to those who naively still believe that this is a free country. Voices like Steno Sari's must be amplified if you want to avoid the sed peiora parantur (the brewing of rainy days).