Final meeting in Sinop, Turkiye

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

After almost three years of the Structured Learning for Awareness in Media – SLAM project, the time has come for the project consortium to summarize the work done. How far have we progressed, what have we all learned, and have we succeeded in a common goal?

On our website, you had a chance to read about Training Course in Italy, Kickoff meeting, Youth Exchange and Seminar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and midterm evaluation meeting in Montenegro, as well as about all good and bad practices and examples of fake news in the countries participating in the project. Now, it's final meeting turn.

From April 1st to April 4th, SLAM project coordinators from Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Turkiye, Italy, and Montenegro participated in the final meeting in Sinop, where we analyzed all local activities, guide, but also project success in countries’ participants.

On the first day of the event, all the participants visited the mayor and the government of the city of Sinop, where they presented the manual and the project, which was approved by our hosts. After that, each of the project partners had the opportunity to present the implemented local activities and a social campaign aimed at raising critical thinking and awareness of the prevention of fake news. Additionally, we presented and discussed the Final Evaluation Report.

Second day was reserved for discussion of quality and impact of project products, i.e. Guidebook and Webpage. After that, we presented and discussed the Sustainability Plan. But that's not all… We visited the beautiful city of Sinop and enjoyed all of its beauties. On the photos below, you can see our enthusiasm and happiness.

During the third day, project partners brainstormed over the national and international follow-up which was presented later during the day. This day was the official closing of the project.

Here are the daily reports from our social networks if you want more details and atmosphere.

BRAVO is immensely proud and happy that its’ team worked on this project together with incredible members of Youth for Social Changes (Albania), KOM018 (Serbia), Mladiinfo (Montenegro), Bulgarian Sports Development Association (Bulgaria), EPEKA (Turkiye), and Mine Vaganti (Italy). Your thoughtfulness is a gift we will always treasure, and our hearts are still smiling due to the hard work, magnificent events and efforts we all put in the project activities, nice memories, lifelong friendships which turned into families. There are no enough words to express our thankfulness for everything all of you did.

This is not a goodbye, but a see you soon. ‘Til the next project, cheers and love for all of you!

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

LOCAL ACTIVITY IN BULGARIA – A MEETING WITH NGOs

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Bulgarian Sports Development Association held a meeting with local non-governmental organizations on March 19, 2022, at the Klisura Monastery “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, during which the project “Structured Learning for Awareness in Media” was presented, which explores the similarities, differences and potential synthesis between different, but the interrelated challenges facing the countries of the Western Balkans and Europe, in international efforts to lay the foundations for greater media literacy and critical thinking at the level of young people and society as a whole as a means of ensuring counteracting the phenomena of hate speech and a building block of successful integration processes.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Sunday School at the Church of the Nativity of Christ. Mladost 3, BG and Sports for All, the Association of Bulgarians with Asthma, Allergies and COPD (ABBA), who received a copy of the guide which explains the ways of combating fake news, and they appreciated the highly developed training materials that can be used to work with young people to raise awareness of young people about fake news.

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

Local activity in Tirana, Albania

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

You already know that SLAM project is about media, their role in society and how they influence opinion creation, but also how they present and influence the minorities’ status in society.

Today we bring you an interview held on A2CNN TV, in Tirana, Albania, where two members of Youth for Social Changes NGO and participants of SLAM seminar in Sarajevo, Andon Kello and Denis Dema, talked on the topic “How to be properly informed? Whom to trust?”

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They mentioned misleading news, media headlines and articles on pandemic of COVID – 19, war in Ukraine, inflation, economic stability, but also the pandemic of fake news, clickbaits, and youth awareness on these issues.

Andon stated that “fake news as the term refers to an unrealistic news and with the spread of social media and mass media, especially here in Albania we are facing with a ‘boom’”. He also explained that, as he could see in different secondary schools in Albania, that youngsters “do not fall prey of fake news or unconfirmed sources.”

Denis explained how to prevent and combat fake news, where he mentioned demonitation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), headline checking, and many options on social media networks which can stop dissemination of misleading content. Additionally, Denis provided an example of a bombastic headline, “the USA attacks Russia“, which is misleading, because the article behind this title explains that the USA attacked Russia in an economic way, i.e. imposed sanctions against Russia. “The best way is to report fake news“, says Denis.

Once again, thanks to our partner organization Youth for Social Changes, its members Andon Kello and Denis Dema, as well as to A2CNN TV, for this great work

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

WORKSHOPS IN ALBANIAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

We are immensely proud to share another beautiful story that was written by volunteers of our partner organization from Albania, Youth for Social Changes. This time, the word is about visits to two secondary schools in Tirana.

As a part of dissemination activities for the project Structured Learning for Awareness in Media – SLAM, three incredible guys, Andon Kello, Denis Dema and Marin Gjoka did informing sessions about the project, its aim, activities, fake news, differences among the terms disinformation, misinformation, false information, and much more.

They explained what fake news is, how it is made and why it is so popular. Also, these young educators answered the question how and why fake news causes harm to people, companies or countries.

Next was a discussion on how to distinguish fake news from a real one, what to do to prevent fake news from happening. SLAM manual was also presented.

YSC’s Volunteers were very surprised to see that young people are aware of media and fake news. Every single of them enjoyed these sessions because of interactivity and positive atmosphere.

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

BRAVO Volunteers in Action – A Workshop in Richmond Park International Secondary School

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Three wonderful members of Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable Opportunities Amina Skejić, Mehmed Spahić and Ajla Aljović held a workshop on the topic of fake news and false information in the 3A class of the Richmond Park International Secondary School.

BRAVO members presented the SLAM project, its goals and manual. After that, students had to read a story by themselves and “give grades” to characters. Then, the groups of five students were created and this time every group had a task to give grades from one to five to the characters. After that group, three even higher groups were created and they gave their grades too.

Finally, all of the groups presented grades and opinions. As the class consists of students from Hungary, China, Turkiye, and different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, different perspectives and opinions could be heard.

BRAVO members were really satisfied with students’ active participation and happy that they loved the workshop. Students’ smiles during and upon the completion the workshop are the best comment we could get.

Once again, thanks to the staff and students of Richmond Park International Secondary School.

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

SLAM Local Activity – Italy

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

One more in the series of workshops was held in the secondary school, this time in Italy by the great partner organization of ours: Mine Vaganti NGO.
 
Members of this organization held a workshop on the topic of fake news and false information, but also presented the SLAM project, its aim and manual.
Students and lecturers discussed the importance of fact-checking and media, as well as the difference among migrants and refugees.
They also debated on the term of curiosity and questioning of articles they read.
 
We are really satisfied with students’ active participation and happy that they loved the workshop.

World Day of Press Freedom

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

May the third is known as the World Day of Press Freedom. But, let's be real, are they really free? How are the journalists treated? Are they able to freely investigate and objectively inform us about the new events in the surrounding and the world?

As we mentioned in one of our previous articles, the Balkans is a very tempestuous region with many downfalls. Eventhough the press freedom is guaranteed on the Balkans, this region lacks behind the other European countries, according to the Press Freedom Index. Bosnia and Herzegovina is placed on the 58th position, Albania on the 84th, North Macedonia on the 92nd position, Serbia is the 93rd, while Montenegro is on the 154th position.

We often witness attacks, harrasments and abusement of female journalists (as well as the male ones). Examples are Olivera Lakić, Živana Šušak Živković, Daško Milinović and many more. Civil society media organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) are very concerned about political influences on the country’s media. Free Media Help Line, a free legal aid program provided by the Association of BH Journalists, registered 45 cases concerning the violation of journalists’ rights in 2018. Five of those were brutal physical attacks, including one attempted murder. Among other violations the foremost frequent were political pressures and threats.

According to research by Mediacentar Sarajevo, due to a fall in advertising revenues, the media in B&H are getting increasingly hooked in to public finance. Subsidies and grants are allocated to the media during a non-transparent manner, while advertising revenues from public companies are exploited for political interests.

Media ownership remains under-regulated: there has been no law limiting media concentration of ownership since 2006 and no information on possible political influences is out there to the general public .

The polarised political climate, marked by constant verbal attacks and nationalist rhetoric, has created a hostile environment for press freedom. Editorial policies reflecting ethnic divisions and hate speech are ever more evident. Journalists are attacked for his or her ethnic origins also as what they write, especially about migration. Defamation suits by politicians often serve to intimidate journalists and deter them from pursuing their work. Manipulation of the media for political purposes continues, especially within the public broadcast media but also in privately-owned media (and online media in particular). Although implementation of the defamation laws has progressed, they still have a self-censorship effect on journalists. Nonetheless, investigative journalism plays a serious role in society and a number of other online media outlets have exposed significant cases of corruption. Yet no legislation has improved the general environment for journalists, no law on online media has been promulgated, and no progress has been made on media ownership transparency. The Covid-19 pandemic undermined and threatened press freedom in 2020. The government held press conferences without journalists being physically present, and officials avoided answering critical questions on the relevance of the government’s measures. Some authorities and state institutions directly obstructed journalists’ work, and in some cases, they even accused journalists of “inaccurate and malicious reporting”.

That being said, we want to warn of the importance of truthful media reporting, without political pressures which often lead to some political games and fake news.  Fake news—news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false designed to control people’s perceptions of reality—has been wont to influence politics and promote advertising. But it's also become a way to fire up and intensify social conflict. Stories that are untrue which intentionally mislead readers have caused growing mistrust among people. In some cases this mistrust leads to incivility, protest over imaginary events, or violence. It is time to stop this and allow journalists and other press workers to do their job properly, genuinely, without pressure and objectively.

Press freedom is the foundation of many other basic human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. Free media can call for accountability – raising awareness of clarity discourages corruption and human rights violations. The problems of marginalized groups and minorities can be heard. Accurate information and free media are the key to public discourse: they form common values and influence policies at the local, state and international levels. Freedom of the media is not limited only to investigative journalism – it also includes satirical texts, columns and editorials.

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Ezana Ćeman

Ezana Ćeman

Author of illustration

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

Migrant's Image in Bosnian – Herzegovinian Media

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Due to many years of conflicts and wars in the Middle East, a large number of residents from the countries of that area are trying to find their refuge on European soil. Since 2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been facing a large influx of migrants, who enter in our country often illegally. Since then, local media have become more actively involved in reporting on this population.

Since the beginning of the migrant crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the media, in most cases, have used the term migrants for these people. With the widespread xenophobia in our society, it seems that the media do not contribute to calming the situation, when it comes to the migrant crisis, and newspaper articles are written with the intention of attracting as many readers as possible, without checking information about the certain events. Media with more empathy for this group of people make a distinction between different groups, and use names like people on the move and refugees, although their number is very small.

According to international and laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a refugee is any foreigner who has fled the country of origin due to war or fear of persecution, while a migrant is any person who has left the country of origin, usually for economic reasons. An analysis of the most – read media in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows that very few of them have written about this difference, trying to explain to the public the difference between the two terms.

Some of them are N1, Anadolu Agency – Bosnian service, VOA in Bosnian and BUKA. Further, it seems that in Bosnia and Herzegovina the least mentioned group in the media are asylum seekers, the people who have applied for asylum in our country, whereby they can receive one of the two forms of international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection).

All these groups in the Bosnian-Herzegovinian media are mostly called migrants, and the articles about them are usually full of negative news. Some of them have the following titles: “Migrants who committed an armed robbery in Zenica caught in Donji Vakuf”, “Details of the horrific crime near Tešanj: Migrant stabbed with knife in the head”, “A migrant, accused of rape and infected with HIV, has escaped”, etc. By the number of news that speak negatively about this population, the site by name antimigrant.ba is in the forefront, using very often pejoratives in its articles, such as brothers in faith, lovers of people on the move , brothers from ISIS, ”miserable” muhajirs , etc., which makes readers to feel more disdain toward migrants.

Most of the sources used by the Bosnian media in reporting on migrants are unreliable and are often based on eyewitness comments, when it comes to committing crimes, without waiting for an official report from the authorities.

Media that are better equipped and have a larger structure and coverage are often sources of smaller media with regional character, although neither of them shows serious attention for fact-checking. The most famous case of false news-spreading is related to the murder of a young man from Ilidža, where a migrant of Moroccan origin was accused of that crime. Shortly afterwards, news of the event have been spread through media portals, with a prominent image of the first defendant. A few days later, the police arrested a person who matched the description, although it turned out shortly afterwards that he was not a murderer, but a Moroccan with a similar appearance. However, this did not stop the Bosnian media from reporting on the latter as a murderer, without waiting for confirmation of identity by the competent authorities.

Finally, it should be emphasized that most media write and act according to the directives of their governing structures, which are often different political parties. Depending on their attitude towards the migrant issue, the tone of media reporting is also directed (e.g. RTRS, Bljesak.info, STAV Magazine, etc.).

Negative views of migrants and refugees have become a practice in the media, creating prejudices and stereotypes about them that lead to social exclusion.

Dragan Zelenović

Dragan Zelenović

Author of the text

Ezana Ćeman

Ezana Ćeman

Author of illustration

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

Roma people in the eyes of media during the migrant crisis

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Anti-Roma racism, anti-Gypsyism, anti-Romaism, Romaphobia… – why do our neighbors bother us? Why do we have prejudices against diversity and dissimilarity? Isn’t that considered to be wealth and beauty?

The Romani people, in most countries that are members of the SLAM project, are the largest national minority, but this position and status in society have not given them any honors and privileges. Instead, the conditions in which they live are, to put it mildly, catastrophic. The latest research by the Team for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction of the Government of the Republic of Serbia is proof of this statement: 32,000 Roma do not have access to proper water, then 24,000 of them do not have electricity, and 93,000 Roma do not have sewerage. However, this is not the end of the problems they are facing. Romani people do not have access to health and social services, employment, education… The coronavirus pandemic has further aggravated all these problems. During the mentioned pandemic, experts advise us to keep a social distance, but that distance is always and everywhere present towards the Roma, especially during the crisis. According to the research, a large number of the population shows a moderate to high level of social distance towards Roma.

We are witnessing the ghettoization of the Roma population. The media contributes greatly to this. Roma are instrumentalized in accordance with the daily political desires of the government. The government's discourse is accepted, especially when it comes to Roma and migrants. Roma asylum seekers are often considered to be “fake” by political representatives and the media. One can also hear in the media that the Roma themselves are to blame for their poverty and poor living conditions because that is their tradition.

If we compare the writing of media and their coverage of Roma and migrants, this could be summarized as follows. Since the beginning of the migrant crisis, the media have had different criteria for Roma and Migrants. While migrant camps are visited almost on a daily basis and articles about that population are written with a certain amount of empathy and understanding in order to solve this issue, reporting on Roma is quite the opposite. The Roma are interesting to the media only on exceptional occasions, when some international days related to the Roma are celebrated, but even then there are numerous stereotypes and prejudices. The social maladaptation of Roma to the environment in which they live is almost always mentioned. The executive director of the Roma Information Center “Kali Sara”, Sanela Bešić, believes that the attitude of the media towards Roma and their communities is a mirror of the politicians’ attitude, but also the attitude of the entire society and its laws.

Both migrants and Roma appear in the fake news – as separate groups, but also together. It is often the case that Roma present themselves as migrants and beg. We are also witnessing migrants being accused of criminal acts, murders and similar things, but in fact these acts are committed by Roma. Fake news and hate speech against migrants are also present on social networks, and among them the leader is Facebook group “Movement STOP settlement of migrants” that was created on March 25, 2020 and has over 300.000 members, according to Voice journalists. The most drastic examples are calls to kill and expel migrants. Disparaging and stereotyping of that population is second in frequency. Some of the headlines that link migrants to criminal activities are: “Father of a young man attacked in Sarajevo: Migrants broke his skull, the operation lasted 3 and a half hours.”, “A boy was intercepted at the train station, MIGRANTS ARE SUSPECTED.” , “THREE HOURS OPERATED IN HOSPITAL: Migrants brutally beat a minor in Sarajevo.” The media serve fake news, hate speech and generalization, and the institutions do not prevent this, nor the racist messages that can be found in the comments on the articles.

Migrants, as well as the Roma national minority, are still associated with criminal acts, violence, and security breaches. Some Kosovo media falsely reported that a Roma girl kidnapped children, which led to the girl being physically assaulted twice.

Is it fair, okay, human to believe in hear-say stories and false rumors, and create prejudices? The critical consciousness of the wider masses is not sufficiently developed. We blindly trust the media, which are increasingly using clickbait and false statements, and which are categorized as a crime act, rather than accurate and verified information.

However, this is not the only example of an attack on Romani population. Protests and violence against Roma, as well as various intimidations, are present in many countries. Italian authorities intend to expel all Roma who do not have Italian citizenship. In addition, the demolition of Roma camps without the provision of replacement accommodation has become increasingly common in Italy.

When it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, small steps have been taken to protect Roma rights, but this is still “not in bloom”. The phrases “I will give you to the gypsies” and “The gypsy woman will steal you” can often be heard among people. Those sentences are derogatory, discriminatory and unpleasant to hear. The report on the position of Roma in B&H showed that the state does not provide enough basic rights for Roma. Crimes committed out of hatred against Roma are not uncommon and the lack of an appropriate response from the authorities can create a climate of impunity and deepen the experience of marginalization.

If we want to comment on crimes committed by Roma – there are no statistics for Roma in the registers of crimes and misdemeanors, and it is not possible to determine whether the assumption that Roma have a high degree of violation of the law is really correct and trustworthy.

Through direct normative influence, the media influence the creation of prejudices, but also their augmentation. Minority groups in the media are portrayed through negative bias both qualitatively and quantitatively. Why is it like that? The answer is simple – the media are market-oriented towards the majority, the dominant group, because of the political and economic power that the group possesses. In the last few years, Roma have been marginally present in the media space, while a significant percentage of attention has been paid to migrants. Media writing is stereotypical for both categories and depends on daily politics, which uses media to create public opinion about migrants and pushes Roma to the margins of society. We are increasingly witnessing “sensational” reporting by the media that transmit the information served without their analysis, verification, without initiative and research approach.

Every event in which the actors are members of the Roma minority points to the fact that the media have double criteria: one for the Roma and the other for the rest.

It is certain that triviality, sensation and extreme superficiality in the approach to the treatment of topics in the media today, have sponsored that topics about the Roma and their lives are treated without any empathy and will to influence the much-needed changes. Emphasis is placed on peripheral details, not on the essence. This does not help anyone, and it harms the Roma community the most, about which prejudices are only further created and strengthened. And as a conclusion to all of the above, it would be the following: Roma are collateral damage to political action as a whole.

 

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Ezana Ćeman

Ezana Ćeman

Author of illustration

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

Published by

George Orwell’s 1984 as a timeless scenario

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

This article is basically set to uncover the veil of George Orwell’s creativity in placing unexpired and timeless image adhered to the novel of“Nineteen Eighty Four” that coincided with political and fake news scenarios whose occurrence dated back to approximately less than fifty or sixty decades ago, but in a such way how these images repapered, reproduced, and interconnected with similar situations, political incidents and scenarios in both 20th and 21st centuries. We will try to critically analyze the characters’ acts and quotes from the novel underlining the political images, fake news and their insinuations that the writer displayed not only for criticizing the political systems and regimes at that time but also for foreseeing his readers’ future which will witness the repetition of the same scenarios.

The article will try to prove how the images appeared in Orwell’s novel will remain as a mirror of renewable incidents as long as the dirty games in politics will never be over or removed. Finally, the article concludes thereupon the political ideology and scenarios in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four” akin to such scenarios and incidents in truth additionally to the timeless qualities of his works which still appeal for readers of various generations and different cultures.

For those who haven't read the book yet, let's briefly introduce the novel 1984. This work is a dystopian fiction that is about a dystopian futuristic society in 1984 during which Britain has transformed into a “superstate” and named “Oceania” after the global war. Elements of war and futurism is a crucial theme which Orwell takes into consideration throughout 1984.

Oceania is ruled by a totalitarian government named “The Party” and therefore the Party's leader is Big Brother, who enjoys an intense cult of personality but might not even exist. The government has four ministries; Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of affection with torture and therefore the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. All jobs within the country are under the control of those four ministries. The country, which consists of senior party leaders, party members, and therefore the proletariat, is kept in check in the least times. Moreover, party members are civil servants and therefore the proletariat constitutes a category freed from support and supervision.

Sounds familiar (The Party – SDx, SBx, HDx; Big Brother – MD, BI, DČ…) and highly related to Bosnia and Herzegovina? Yeah, we know…

How can we connect this book with the SLAM project, its goals and fake news? Read the following paragraphs carefully.

Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull. / The people will believe what the media tells them they believe.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the characters’ lives are completely controlled by government forces and beliefs. This control extends even to the foremost private recesses of an individual. Orwell depicts a bleak and dystopian world so barren of individuality and privacy that “nothing [is] your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” He employs color imagery to convey the negative and stifling effects of such a world over the “colorless, crushed-looking” victims of its regime. Individuals are unable to measure open, free and authentic lives because the Party demands absolute loyalty and absolute control over its subjects. The Party even demands uniformity of thought and total control over even the foremost intimate and personal recesses of individuality, the mind.

Winston’s decision to write down his private thoughts in a diary highlight the elemental human need for freedom of thought because it is the only vehicle available to him to “carry on the human heritage.” Even the youngsters are used as weapons to invade their parents’ privacy. They're actively encouraged to watch their parents’ actions and betray them. Orwell’s Oceania may be a world during which “It [is] almost normal for people over thirty to be scared of their own children.”

Orwell’s book concludes with protagonist, Winston, totally accepting the Party’s rule, fully participating within the ritualistic Two Minute Hate, and believing that two plus two equals five. Nowadays, we seem to be Winston, but more importantly Big Tech seems to behave just like the Party. How is that? Well, we accept the cookies on every single website and online media, we agree with the Terms of Privacy on every single installed app without even reading it (yeah, you can relate this to Bill Gates, chipping, vaccines and 5G as well), we believe in Facebook news and comments on those articles, we believe in some “shocking, unbelievable, PHOTO+VIDEO” Instagram posts.

As mentioned in one of the previous articles and according to research by Mediacentar Sarajevo, due to a fall in advertising revenues, the media in B&H are getting increasingly hooked in to public finance.

Subsidies and grants are allocated to the media during a non-transparent manner, while advertising revenues from public companies are exploited for political interests.

Media ownership remains under-regulated: there has been no law limiting media concentration of ownership since 2006 and no information on possible political influences is out there to the general public.

What does this mean? This means that some famous and credible media in Bosnia and Herzegovina are in the service of several strongest political parties and journalists have to publish news that are permitted by their political bosses. We believe to those famous media, because their name is credible, they have the best status, but are they really trustworthy? I think that Orwell’s quotes “The people will believe what media tells them they believe.”, “The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.” are true in this case.

What I find disheartening is that there are a couple of simple things that are advocated for an extended time that might, if not solve the matter entirely, at least help significantly:

Add a warning message – Social media companies have tried to eliminate every friction point for users so as to maximize the quantity of communication and engagement on their platforms. But what if they took a special approach? What if, when a user was close to post or tweet something inflammatory, social media companies interrupted with a pop-up message saying something along the lines of: “Are you sure?” Instagram implemented something similar in 2019 to limit damaging reactive communications. Though this approach won’t prevent everyone from posting outrageous content, it'll force tons folks to pause and reflect before we do so.

Stop showing suggested posts or videos as how to stay users scrolling / viewing even once they have seen everything that the people they follow have posted – YouTube launched AutoPlay in 2015, serving its viewers a series of continuously playing suggested videos. This feature is essentially considered because the main driver for the dissemination of utmost content. Instagram, which had resisted so far, changed its policy in August 2019 and commenced including suggested posts in users’ feeds.

Aggressively fight for facts – When someone writes that “two plus two equal five,” make it your mission to a minimum of stop propagating the lie, regardless of how exciting it's for your users. This may be an incredibly difficult and certain never-ending battle. Mistakes are going to be made. But they’re worthwhile. Efforts thus far are too timid; investments in robust fact checking teams and processes got to be ramped up dramatically. Researchers are still divided on whether placing warning messages alongside false information is effective in limiting the sharing of it. Some have concluded that it could make users less likely to shared; others have seen no impact. But it’s worth trying.

Relentlessly identify and pack up accounts, pages, and forums that promote hate – A study on the consequences of a ban of two hate communities by Reddit in 2015 demonstrated that “by shutting down these echo chambers of hate, Reddit caused the people participating to either leave the location or dramatically change their linguistic behavior.” In other words, the extent of hate decreased altogether, even when an equivalent users continued to use Reddit and joined other forums.

All of those solutions come right down to an easy idea: a very human-centric business—one that desires to enhance humanity—should support its users’ strengths, instead of exploit our weaknesses. Though our world today may resemble Nineteen Eighty-Four, there’s still time for us to write down a special ending.

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

It is scary how, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party uses Newspeak to strip meaning out of language, making it impossible for people to possess certain thoughts. Reducing the amount of words available to people prevents them from having proper feelings and concepts , and makes the planet harder to process and comprehend. When language loses its meaning (“war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength“), the Party is on top of things of what's considered reality. Facts and independent thought don’t really exist anymore:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. the entire literature of the past will are destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely become something different, but actually contradictory of what they wont to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you've got a slogan like Freedom is Slavery when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The entire climate of thought are going to be different. In fact, there'll be no thought, as we know it now.

During the preparation of this article, we did a qualitative research and compared several articles published on the Internet. We can see that numerous media use words such as “shocking, scary and exclusive news”, “PHOTO+VIDEO” and then there are max. 10 simple sentences which try to prove something that later turns out to be fake news. For example, have a glance at this article which uses clickbait title, catchy photos and aforementioned words:

https://www.mojevrijeme.hr/magazin/2018/11/sokantna-vijest-koju-morate-znati-o-ovim-migrantima/.

This article is great, detailed and its authors did a wonderful job in investigating the real truth. However, there is an article which says that migrants are preparing ducks for their meal at the river Una and that local citizens are shocked. That article is shared on Facebook by BHnovosti and when you try to open and read it, you can't :

(https://novosti-tv.net/2018/07/05/sokantno-migranti-rostiljaju-patke-na-uni-biscani-zgrozeni/ ).

What is more “shocking” here is that people believe in the second article, they think it is reality, they choose to generalize and believe in fake videos and photos.

Our own language is becoming more reductive and simplistic, as a results of social media’s character limits and use of hashtags to surface and promote catchy, easy-to-understand ideas, events, and trends. On these platforms, nuance isn't rewarded. And by allowing any opinion (no matter how fringe) to require on the looks of fact, social networks have made it harder for us to grasp our reality.

The rise of ‘alternative facts’ has spiked the sales for George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, as people steel oneself against the truth of a Big Brother dystopia.

Facts are indisputable truths. Facts aren't subjective, measurable or up for discussion. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘facts’ in the following way: ”A fact may be a piece of data presented as having objective reality.“

So when Kellyanne Conway tried to press the narrative that falsehoods might be called “alternative facts,” people were understandably alarmed.

Parallels are drawn between Conway’s statement and George Orwell’s novel 1984 during which ‘alternative facts’ — there called ‘untruths’ and ‘doublespeak’ — are employed by an authoritarian government in an effort to regulate the narrative of its people’s reality.

If there’s any excellent news to require faraway from Conway’s comments, it's that these parallels have actually led many truth-seekers to select up Orwell’s important novel to realize some perspective. The Washington Post is one among many shops now reporting that the long-lasting classic has soared to the highest 5 on Amazon.com.

Forbes’ article “As Orwell's 1984 Turns 70 It Predicted Much Of Today's Surveillance Society” from 2019 says this: “George Orwell’s famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four turns 70 years old next month. Looking back on its predictions and the state of the world today, how much did it get right in its predictions of a dystopian surveillance state where every word is monitored, unacceptable speech is deleted, history is rewritten or deleted altogether and individuals can become ‘unpersons’ for holding views disliked by those in power? It turns out Orwell’s predictions were frighteningly accurate.

“In 1984, it was the state that determined what constituted acceptable speech in keeping society orderly.

“In 2019, it is a small cadre of private companies in Silicon Valley and their executives that wield absolute power over what we are permitted to see and say online.

“In 1984, there were just a few countries to which most of the world’s citizens belonged.

“In 2019, there are just a few social media empires to which most of the world’s netizens belong.

“In 1984, it was the state that conducted surveillance and censored speech.

“In 2019, social media companies deploy vast armies of human and algorithmic moderators that surveil their users 24/7, flagging those that commit thoughtcrimes and deleting their violations from existence. Those that commit too many thoughtcrimes are banished to ‘unperson’ status by these same private companies, without any intervention or even in contradiction with the will of the state and without any right to appeal.”

References:

  1. Diana Ali; 2020; The nature of Revolution in George Orwell's “Animal Farm; The Journal of Theological Studies.
  2. Meghna Chakrabarti; 06 June 2019; ‘1984’ In 2019: Did George Orwell's Classic Get It Right; Wbur.org website; Accesed on 25 April 2021 (https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/06/06/george-orwell-1984-technology-government-surveillance )
  3. Mohammad Al-Subaihi & Hanita Ismail; 2020; Orwell's 1984 and the concept of Powerlessness; International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences. 5. 289-297. 10.22161/ijels.51.48.
  4. Mohammed Amir & Amir Albloly & Mohammed Hizabr Alhusami; 2020; George Orwell's Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four as Timeless Scenarios: A Political Perspective.
  5. 5. Muhammad Arif & Humaira Ahmad & Bakht Rahman; 2018; Dismantling Panopticonic Regime: Study of Orwell’s 1984
  6. Thomas Cushman and  John Rodden;  2004;  George Orwell:  Into  the  Twenty-First  Century; Boulder:  Paradigm Publishers.
  7. Zeynepnur Bolulu & Soldiery War; 2018; Elements of War and Futurism in ‘1984’ by George Orwell

 

Ajla Aljović

Ajla Aljović

Author of the text

Ezana Ćeman

Ezana Ćeman

Author of illustration

Lejla Srna

Lejla Srna

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