World Press Freedom Day
Pertinent Material from the Party Press
Artificial Intelligence and Fact Checking Can’t Replace Conscious Human Thinking
TML: Anna, many readers have told us that colleagues and friends and they themselves have fallen prey to inflammatory images which they thought showed civilian casualties and distress in Ukraine which turned out to not be true.
Anna Di Carlo: What is called fake news is a definite problem in the coverage of what is taking place in Ukraine. The “legacy media” – the term used to describe pre-social media newspapers, news agencies, radio and television, such as the BBC, CBC and Reuters News – are carrying reports about fake photos and videos related to the Ukraine-Russia military conflict. This refers to fake photos and videos on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. The main feature is that they are designed to incite anti-Russia passions and foment war hysteria and panic. Reuters News Agency, in its “Fact Checking Section,” provides a significant list of images posted on social media falsely claiming to represent current events in Ukraine.
These media outlets, and myriad other organizations have staff dedicated to exposing what is variably described as “fake news” “misinformation,” “disinformation,” “propaganda” and the like. They are said to work 24/7 to keep up with the avalanche of such fakes. Their exposures clearly show that the false postings are so prevalent that people must not only read the “news” to try to inform themselves about what is going on, but then also read the news about what is not really news, to make sure that they have not been incited by things that are simply not true or deliberately misleading.
Fake news “experts” give advice on what to do, such as checking to see if a social-media posting has been verified by “reliable” sources, meaning the legacy media. But the fact is that even when social media postings have been debunked, it is not uncommon to see outlets that are supposed to be reliable using the debunked information. This was the case with reports with sensationalist headlines about a residential building in Ukraine that was allegedly attacked by a Russian missile. It was established that the building was in fact hit by a Ukrainian missile, but photos of it, with claims that the Russians are targeting civilians, continue to be published.
All of this is evidence of the modus operandi of covert “intelligence agencies” to make sure people are caught up in the cycle of spin and counter-spin so that they spend no time working things out for themselves, establishing a vantage point from which they can comprehend the facts and draw warranted conclusions. It is to make sure the people do not become a factor which makes a difference. All of it covers up what is not spoken about by these news agencies and outlets which is the causes – what has led to the current situation – and the role of the peoples in securing a favourable outcome. Without this, solutions which the peoples can in good conscience get behind are illusive.
Most people are against wars. They are against the dislocation, deaths, casualties and suffering of the peoples of the affected countries. When they see images of any of these things which blame a particular party for the acts portrayed, then people understandably get very upset. It is only natural that in good conscience they speak out against it and against those said to be causing the suffering. It is also upsetting to see self-serving propaganda that does not treat the suffering of one section of the Ukrainian population the same as the suffering of another section. When section two suffers, there is silence. It is ignored or treated as if it is of no importance, or as collateral damage to a just cause.
In this regard, in all the talk about the “first” attack on Europeans, those seen to be Europeans apparently do not include the Yugoslavs whose country was bombed into submission twenty-three years ago this March. The air strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999 causing deaths, massive destruction and thousands upon thousands of refugees. This is not even considered a war in a European country. Russia is the largest European country, but it is not even considered European! The point is what should people do when they find out they have been duped?
Official media and social media are quite capable of pinpointing what is called fake news. When it comes to images, they use artificial intelligence for verification. Images are checked against a database of existing images. Software is also used to compare data embedded in a photo which indicates its true geo-location with the alleged location claimed at this time.
In the days when people had to contend with print media alone, the phenomenon was called yellow journalism. The Hearst publications and other papers were notorious for disseminating material that served the vested interests behind the newspapers. False news was often the act of covert operatives trying to frame a person or a movement, or instigate a false flag operation. During the Cold war it became a matter of the Nazi big lie technique – “repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it.” The Nazi propaganda machine was based on such lies and then the Cold Warriors picked it up – both the technique and many of the same lies – to justify their own striving for domination after World War II.
Today, the use of lies and false photos is integral to everyday life. It has been a major issue since the U.S. intelligence agencies distributed a photo of babies in incubators in Kuwait to say Saddam Hussein was killing babies, followed by the deliberate lying about weapons of mass destruction and so on. Whether it is through legacy media or social media platforms, it is clear that people find themselves at the mercy of purveyors of false facts circulated about what is happening “on the ground” in Ukraine. They are also at the mercy of the owners of certain social media platforms such as those controlled by the interests behind the U.S. war propaganda who are elevated to the status of censors who declare what is legitimate opinion and what is not. Certain countries adopt anti-hate laws or criteria about what endangers national security without the calm deliberation of the people. They are pushed and adopted hysterically by lawmakers who claim to represent the people.
“Winning the hearts and minds” of people has always been a part of military conflict and war. NATO calls it “cognitive warfare.” When it is carried out by NATO, the people are told it is for the preservation of “peace and democracy;” when it is carried out by Russia or China or Cuba, the Palestinians or any nation that refuses to kowtow to the U.S.-led military alliance, it is said to be for the purpose of “duping the people.”
In this regard, it is a matter of serious concern to Canadians that war-time censorship measures are being taken at this time without even bothering to invoke war measures legislation. For instance, the Canadian government has “suggested” that major TV service providers such as Bell and Rogers remove RT (Russia Today) News from their offerings. The service providers have done it on their own initiative and it is reported that the CRTC is going to investigate the status of RT News. It shows how the concepts of freedom of speech and association, and civil liberties themselves are nilly willy thrown out the window in the name of high ideals. Those who are provoking and encircling Russia in the name of protecting liberal democratic institutions are the first to destroy those institutions, standards and norms, which stand in the way of their plans as part of U.S. striving for domination.
Today the essence of the disinformation is to cover up that the ruling circles will not permit people to calmly debate what is going on and establish their own frame of reference which permits them to analyze the cause of unfolding events and how to provide problems with solutions which favour the peoples. They keep people embroiled in the spin and counter-spin which has the result that they cannot actively deploy their own agency as a force which determines the outcome of events. They are left at the mercy of powers which have usurped decision-making to serve narrow private supranational interests.
The character of warmongering, lies and disinformation is that they do not lead to understanding what is taking place and where solutions lie. The peoples are striving for peace, democracy and freedom. The saying “facts are stubborn things” is true but first the peoples have to establish which facts are relevant and which are not. In other words, to identify the facts that matter and permit the people to get at the heart of the matter is itself an important activity that requires fidelity to relations between humans and humans and humans and nature. In the absence of this, the likelihood of falling into every possible diversion is a real problem.
Basing oneself on these relations in this case will reveal that the conflict in Ukraine is provoked by the U.S., with Canada playing a dirty role second to none, by using Ukraine as a forward base to isolate Russia and disable it as a contender for control over what the U.S. and NATO consider to be their own interests, whether in Europe or the world. They show that the President of Russia and his government finally said “Enough!” and declared they had no way out but to launch a military operation to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.
What is meant by this is that Russia wants to make sure Ukraine cannot be a forward base used to threaten Russia’s interests. Putin said it was a desperate measure and that he favours a negotiated settlement which, clearly, unlike the Minsk Agreements, must be enforced. Meanwhile, the U.S. and NATO are escalating tensions by plotting revenge and deploying even more troops and munitions.
Underlying all of this, the curtain of disinformation tries to hide that what the U.S. and NATO are doing and what Russia is doing are the result of the so-called New World Order imposed by the United States and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in 1990 in which Canada participated as well. The U.S. thought that with the end of the bi-polar division of the world it could declare itself the sole hegemon and force the entire world to submit to its interests. Instead conditions of great disequilibrium remain and the U.S. tries to continually pit Russia against China to secure its own advantage. Such a tri-polar division however is the most dangerous as no equilibrium can be established and conflicts intensify as seen with Ukraine. To secure its own interests, far from disbanding NATO, the U.S. ensured its expansion and continues to do so. Today the encirclement of Russia and the provocations carried out against it and against part of the Ukrainian population have become intolerable.
Opposing false news is a matter of the peoples of the world being able to find their bearings in a world where oligarchs of all kinds from all quarters have seized control of governments and the peoples have no say. It is the peoples who must determine what happens.
All the known facts tell the people that a political solution determined by them is required to bring the world out of this dark period of retrogression, reaction, aggression and war. That political solution requires people to take up the banner of democratic renewal to vest sovereignty in themselves and wrest power from the purveyors of war. It requires anti-war governments which provide the rights of all by virtue of being human, both at home and on the world scale, with a guarantee.
(From TML Monthly, March 1, 2022)