Simona Levi: "Trump did not come to power only thanks to social networks"

Known for being the activist who led rodrigo rat to jail -through the platform 15MpaRato- the playwright, cultural promoter and political activist Simona Levi (Turin, 1966)based in Barcelona since 1990, has specialized for a year in denounce information manipulation to which society lives. In 2019 she coordinated #FakeYou: Fake News and disinformation, a book published by Rayo Verde in which he denounces how political parties or institutions resort to fake news to promote their interests.

Does fake news have a grain of truth to make it believable?

Let's say fake news, which is the popular term to refer to informative disinformation. They are basically the information manipulation and propaganda of a lifetime. It is a manipulation of reality, whether total or partial, with different biases, such as when an example is used as a generality. There are many ways to manipulate information, and all of them make up disinformation.

Who manufactures this information?

What we explain in the book is the narrative around this fake news. They usually come from the same institutions or from information monopolies. There is a tendency to say that misinformation is the people's fault and that is not true, not because we do it in part as a society, but because the ones that really impact society are those behind a power, be it economic, institutional or political, which allows it to go viral and reach people en masse.

The social media are they really the source of the problem as is often said?

Misinformation has always existed. Before, as there were fewer information channels, these were the ones that produced and spread the manipulated news. In the book, in fact, we take a tour of history starting with the Trojan horse or the witch hunt. The information that is used to attack enemies or to serve certain political interests has always circulated through all possible channels. Now, with social networks, there is one more medium, but if they did not exist, we would still have that problem.

So why are they almost always singled out as the source of the problem?

There is a tendency to put the Internet in the spotlight because it is a channel with which many people can get information through other channels, although sometimes it can also be problematic. But, for example, Trump did not come to power only thanks to social networks. There was also Fox and other actors. If we defend that misinformation comes from the Internet, we are favoring those who defend that the network is not available to everyone and that it is controlled by a ministry of truth.

Can everyone be a victim of this massive misinformation process?

It is a cross-cutting issue. Most people believe fake news and many of those who think they know how to verify information well are wrong by 86%. And this, obviously, is not just the fault of the citizens. It is, in part, the fault of our human condition, which makes us easily believe everything that supports our beliefs, instead of discussing it. However, on the other hand, the company also does not have the necessary tools to verify the information. If the journalists themselves, due to a matter of time and lack of tools, can no longer verify everything, imagine how little capacity the rest of the population has.

How can false information be combated?

The proposal, which we explain in the book, is to create a label that is mandatory for anyone who pays or receives remuneration to issue information. A label that details the sources and brings out all the information. It would be how it is done with food, which includes a label indicating whether it contains gluten or not, for example. The institutions should generate forms that allow reaching the ingredients that make up that news.

And as citizens, what can we do?

I don't want to talk more about the account of the book, but the truth is that buying it and reading it. Because we really are the only ones who propose a constructive formula, based on logic and practice. The problem is the political parties and they are only somewhat afraid of something, their voters. This will only change if we as civil society demand it. We should not focus so much on the other parties, if not demand that those of us who vote, be transparent and avoid information manipulation.

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