Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

What about the information we are receiving?

Chicago 29.05.2016 Manariho Etienne In our democratic society, the most important tool for shaping our own opinion and, above all, public opinion, is information. In the last and coming few months, we have been and are exposed to many controversial issues, ranging from the Presidential election in the United States to adoption of homosexual marriage in Ireland and Panama Papers.

Let's mention some other of them. We had the LBGT celebration of declassification as illness on May 17th and the 1st World Humanitarian Summit on May 23-24. We witnessed the different and polemic version on Pope Francis’s encyclical on the Care of our Common House and on his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia. We had contradictory discussion and ambiguous vision on tremendous issues such as the nuclear agreement with Iran and on the IS war.

We observed with amazement how the ousting of President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil has to be read in two opposite versions: either as the ultimate management effort to curb corruption or as nothing less than a constitutional state coup. Michel Temer, the vice president replacing her, is a leader of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, that broke the coalition government with the ruling Workers' Party just to support the impeachment, and is he too under judicial investigation for Lava Jato, the macro bribery scandal, rigging contracts and money laundering around the public oil company Petrobras.

In Venezuela, the Supreme Court tries to block the revocation of President Nicolas Maduro by delaying the procedure for holding a recall referendum that the National Assembly wants to celebrate this year. And this, because, if the referendum is made in 2017 and not in 2016 and it wins the Constitution, will enable the Vice President to assume the Presidency of the Republic for a term of six years, ending in 2018.

This biased use of social media is a little surprising. The private wars among Mass responds to policies, politics and ideologies they support according to the monthly check-payers. There is no objective and neutral version of any fact, deed or event. All are told, reported, analyzed and recorded from a previous already stated point of view. What is not very pernicious, since it is enough to have a look at publicity pages to know in which perspective and interest any Mass Media positions itself.

For instance, CNN is accused of airing far more fossil fuel advertisements than coverage of climate change - by a margin of 5-to-1!  In one week, following the announcement that 2015 was confirmed as the hottest year on record by NASA, CNN aired exactly 57 seconds of climate coverage —compared with more than 12.5 minutes of ads from the American Petroleum Institute. But this is ads -propaganda not neutral and objective information. However, how can we read the news of El Universal newspaper, written by one of the most followed of Venezuela's journalists that the regime "wants to end the presence of Catholic priests in the neighborhoods, riding a pedophile campaign"? Government officials are accused of offering money to poor families in exchange for accusing priests of sexual abuse.

Nowadays, though, a new tool -social internet campaigns- entered the arena by manipulating and biasing data to pledge so many specific, sometimes extremist and amazing issues and disputes. A campaign is calling to condemn as blatantly unconstitutional Obama’s administration threat of cutting federal funds unless local school districts allow students into opposite-sex bathrooms if they identify themselves as "transgender", because management of school districts is a competence of the States not of the Federal Government. Obama's action is called conjuring up images of King George rather than an American President. Meanwhile other campaigns calling to support the decision as absolutely right.

We are called from one side to fight the great bastion of US LGBT -the Alliance of Gays and Lesbians Against Defamation (GLAAD)-, putting Disney in the spotlight for failing to give visibility to their group in any of the 11 films released in 2015 and exacting Disney to homo-sexualize his films and make  Elsa Frozen, a so loved character by all children, the first lesbian protagonist of Disney stories. And from the other side to fight even the most innocent expression as a form of homophobia.

While the UN convenes the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the conference is labeled a meeting "run by the bureaucrats for the bureaucrats," with the clear intention of preventing pro-life countries to voice on the document coming out of the conference. Actually this intention, it is suggested, is clear and has spanning on time during the past 20 years since the Cairo Conference of 1994; at that time, the right to abortion was proposed to become the law for all the world; did not Vatican, pro-life Catholic countries from Latin America, along with Muslim countries oppose.

Even so, here too, it is enough to analyze the section "About us" to know how to skim information and values of any campaign coming up throughout the internet. For this reason, big social media as Twitter and Facebook were considered the last shore of an independent, neutral and objective information; each one is supposed to publish his/her own opinion; then, an automatic logician shows whether information is or not trending; the readers would take the information with his/her whole freedom and judge what to do with it. The “trending” news sections, therefore, was a tool with any "personal" view or interest in choosing which news is “trending” or not.

Now a revelation is coming out denying this impartiality and accusing the management of Facebook of suppressing news stories. A former Facebook employee that worked on the “trending” news section says that workers routinely suppressed stories about Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics, and artificially “injected” stories that Facebook preferred even if these stories weren’t “trending” at all. Holding “trending” section out as an unbiased news source means Facebook intentionally discriminates against some news and views. Today against conservatives, yesterday and tomorrow against what?

As Thomas Jefferson is supposed to have said: Information is the currency of democracy. The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do (Steve Ballmer).

In our democratic society, the most important tool for shaping our own opinion and, above all, public opinion is information. If "We are in a democratic society. It's our job to question" (Kurt Russell), today we have to question with T. S. Eliot "Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? All of us show bias when it comes to what information we take in. We typically focus on anything that agrees with the outcome we want (Noreena Hertz).


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