Freedom and licentiousness

Freedom House released its 2017 report, an assessment of online freedom, and it found that governments around the world are dramatically increasing their efforts to manipulate information on social media, thus threatening the notion of the Internet as a liberating technology.

The report cited the global use of paid commentators and political bots to spread government propaganda, even as this practice was pioneered only by China and Russia, according to Freedom House president Michael Abramowitz.

“The effects of these rapidly spreading techniques on democracy and civic activism are potentially devastating,” he said.

It would not at all be difficult to imagine the environment of confusion and disbelief. Here at home, even government officials are prone to spreading unverified information so long as it suited the purposes of their political patrons.

It could very well just be carelessness, but it could also be deliberate. It is easy after all to claim good intentions and honest mistakes, especially in a country so little inclined to verify information on their own before passing it as legitimate.

Take, for example, that misquote of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who faced pressure to address the issue of garbage from Canada that had been shipped here.

Videos of the press conference showing Trudeau saying it was theoretically possible to get the garbage back abound. But pro-administration bloggers, including one who had been appointed as a communication official, posted on social media a graphic that showed him saying the exact opposite.

Canada’s leader has to make good on his word—the people should see to that and it’s an issue that deserves another piece altogether. For this one, we are reminded that there is a world of difference between “possible” and “impossible.” Failure to get it right, deliberately or not, is indefensible; it is likely why Palace communicators have been mum on the matter.

Everyone is free to express one’s opinion on any matter. Such is the bedrock of democracy. But all opinion must be based on fact. Mangling the facts for desired results and taking advantage of the masses’ gullibility is questionable when done by ordinary citizens. It is plain sinister when committed by public officials.

Topics: Freedom House , social media
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