Cuban journalist. First Vice-President of UPEC and Vice-President of FELAP. She is a Doctor in Communication Sciences and author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me olvide“, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. He has been awarded the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Prize on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017. On twitter: @elizalderosa
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The new digital platforms favor the emergence of groups of individuals organized like a claque, ready to unconditionally applaud the one who pays. Anyone who isn’t in a blockaded country like Cuba can create content, invest in it for specific groups to see and even rent or buy virtual applause to generate “likes” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter.
This is the business model of these technology platforms, thanks to which, for example, in the first quarter of 2018 Facebook had a turnover of $11.79 billion, almost four billion more (49 percent) than a year ago. Of that total, about 98.5 percent comes from advertising.
Such a thing happens every day and it is difficult to generate a perception of popularity on networks without hundreds of thousands of followers. These are usually achieved by registering artificial identities that promote messages of support, and the favor is not free. There are hundreds of companies that offer this service without any complexes. Simply enter “buy followers” in any search engine to find them. And it is not expensive: the price of a thousand followers is between 15 and 20 dollars. Getting ten thousand more people to follow us costs less than $120.
“Troll farms” – editors responsible for spreading false information on the Internet – have been used by politicians, entertainment stars, American spies, Donald Trump’s campaign team, Macri’s campaign team, the British military, Israeli propaganda organizations and many others who have made these huge profits from the platform founded by Mark Zuckerberg possible and placed it among the ten largest companies in the world, according to its value on the stock exchange.
The numbers are impressive and not just for the profits: a study published in March 2017 by the universities of South Carolina and Indiana estimated that, within Twitter, the proportion of “troll farms” that use automated applications to replicate messages (known as bots) was between 9 percent and 15 percent of their total users. The number of automatically-controlled fake profiles is between 30 million and 48 million.
Not out of moral compulsion, but to tune in to Washington’s anti-Russian and anti-Iranian discourse, Facebook has been willing to shut down some “troll farms” and escape, even momentarily, from the wave of criticism that has fallen on it for buying and selling data without the consent of its more than 2.4 billion users. This is how hits decided to eliminate hundreds of accounts with “inauthentic behavior” on Tuesday, according to a press release
We eliminated 652 pages, groups and accounts for coordinated “non-authentic behavior” that originated in Iran and were targeted to people across multiple Internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the United States.
But while Facebook eliminates foreign-generated fake accounts, allegedly of Russian or Iranian origin, it tolerates the U.S. government’s “troll farms” without any crisis of conscience. Before any of us had heard of this machinery of fake accounts, fake news and Cambridge Analytica – the London-based company that intervened in more than 200 elections by manipulating the users of Facebook – the Pentagon was already publicly boasting that it was using the blue thumb network as propaganda bait for its operations.
Defense One magazine reported in November 2016 that Michael Lumpkin, former director of the Global Engagement Center (GEC, Pentagon propaganda department), described how the Center used Facebook data to maximize the effectiveness of its operations:
“Using Facebook ads I can get an audience, choose Country X, a specific age group between 13 and 34, filter people who like Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi or any other group… and I can shoot and hit them directly with messages,” Lumpkin said. He stressed that with the right data, effective message targeting can be done with only pennies per click.
Yesterday, the Miami New Times, a weekly newspaper in Florida, released a document proving that a US government-funded broadcasting organization is creating fake Facebook accounts in disinformation operations. These are directed against a country, Cuba, that has not done the slightest damage to the United States and that cannot access the Facebook ad manager because of the US blockade laws.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will spend more than $23 million in fiscal year 2019 on its Office of Broadcasting to Cuba (OCB), which controls Radio and TV Martí, and its projects include no less than a troll farm.
According to the budget requested of Congress for 2019, OCB will use the money in fake Facebook accounts of the kind that it perfectly classifies as “non-authentic behavior” to promote regime change on the island.
Considering the disaster of inefficiency, waste and corruption that has accompanied Radio Martí and TV Martí in 33 years of existence at a cost of more than $800 million at the expense of the US taxpayer, the former head of the US Interests Office in Havana, Vicki Huddleston, echoed on Twitter the news of the digital propaganda project against the island, to which she added a phrase of contempt: “Same-old-same-old!!”.).
Will Facebook close the US government’s “non-authentic behavior” accounts, starting with those of Radio and TV Martí? To be or not to be, that’s the question, right, Zuckerberg?
(Taken from Cubaperiodistas)
August 22, 2018.
By Rosa Miriam Elizalde
Cuban journalist. First Vice-President of UPEC and Vice-President of FELAP. She is a Doctor in Communication Sciences and author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me olvide”, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. He has been awarded the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Prize on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017. On twitter: @elizalderosa
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
While the United States is making a scandal about the supposed Russian intervention in social networks to influence the 2016 elections won by Donald Trump, today evidence has been uncovered that the U.S. government is using Facebook to spread fake news about Cuba and clandestinely foment dissidence on the island.
The Florida weekly Miami New Times revealed Wednesday that it has had access to documents from the government’s Office of Broadcasting to Cuba (OCB), run by Radio and TV Martí. It reveals that the Trump administration has been using Facebook accounts for two years that appear “native” (from real people on the island) to spread propaganda without informing Cuban Facebook users that it is government advertising.
According to the report obtained by the weekly, due to the failure of Radio and TV Martí,
the OCB’s strategy has focused on an offensive through social networks, based on metrics that place YouTube, Google and Facebook among the most visited sites in Cuba. With the use of AVRA (Audio and Video for Radio) technology, Radio Martí’s programs began to be broadcast through Facebook Live along with TV Marti’s programming. This provides OCB with additional efficient and cost-effective distribution output for both its radio (now visual radio) and TV content.
In fiscal year 2018, OCB has been establishing itself with digital island equipment (read “dissidents” paid for by the US) that creates native and “unbranded” Facebook accounts to disseminate information. Native” pages increase the chances of appearing in the news for Cuban Facebook users. The same strategy will be replicated in other preferred social networks.
Miami New Times says that the documents do not explain what federal agents mean by “unbranded” or “native” Facebook pages, but it is clear that they must resemble the pages of regular social network users to persuade Cubans to read propaganda from Radio and TV Martí.
According to the weekly, both government broadcasters have spent more than $800 million from the U.S. taxpayer over the years in their unsuccessful effort to influence Cuban public opinion.
This plan fits into a long history of attempting to use technology to fit propaganda against Cuba, says University of Pennsylvania professor John S. Nichols.
“There are certainly warning signs here,” says Nichols, co-author of Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A Study of Revolutionary and Counterrevolutionary Electronic Communication (1987), about OCB’s efforts. “It is the latest plan in a long list of efforts by Radio and TV Martí and their predecessors to try to overcome the laws of physics…. Every time they fail to get their message to Cuba, they say there has to be some technological solution.
Instead, he adds, Congress “seems to fail to recognize that both stations are a colossal failure. It’s sad because they’re spending taxpayers’ money. But what’s really being wasted is our credibility as a great nation doing this kind of thing, dumb and stupid.
Prominent figures from both sides of the U.S. political spectrum, including Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have described these OCB programs as counter-productive and a waste of money. Democratic representative Betty McCollum liquidated the AeroMartí platform in 2015 (to transmit to from an airplane to Cuba the broadcasts of Radio and TV Martí) and said that the OCB was an “unnecessary” office.
“Radio and television Martí are old-fashioned Cold War artifacts,” McCollum said in a statement in 2015. “Our taxpayers shouldn’t be funding propaganda broadcasts.”
But the programs continue to exist thanks to a handful of anti-Cuban lawmakers, including Miami representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a longtime promoter of Radio and TV Martí, says the Miami New Times.
Earlier this year, Senator Marco Rubio helped install Tomás Regalado, an old friend, as head of the Radio and TV Martí programs. Since then, Regalado has made great promises about how both stations have new plans to reach “5 million” Cuban citizens in the coming years. Regalado appeared last week on the Spanish-speaking MegaTV network to brag about the use of mysterious new technologies that the Cuban government supposedly cannot block. He said that 200 Cubans had received receivers that would help in this new attempt.
“It’s a technology that didn’t exist, and since the government doesn’t know about it, it will be almost impossible to block it,” Regalado told the cameras.
Nichols argued to the Florida weekly that this type of social media propaganda is damaging the U.S. position in the world.
“Third countries see what we are doing and say,’Here comes America again doing this nonsense,” and he adds,’It’s low, petty and not worthy of great power. Other countries will say,’If the U.S. is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our contractual obligations? And given what Radio Martí and TV Martí might be doing right now, we have a hard time complaining about what other countries might be doing against us.
The report that Miami New Times had access to is OCB’s budget request for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It does not reveal the identities of fake “native” and “unbranded” accounts created on the social network, but Facebook administrators do know what they are. By these extravagant quirks in life, this information coincides with the decision of the social network founded by Marc Zuckerberg to eliminate hundreds of alleged false accounts of Russians and Iranians allegedly involved in several disinformation campaigns.
Will Facebook also eliminate the false accounts created by the U.S. government for regime change in Cuba and will the U.S. Attorney’s Office appoint Robert Mueller or another of his ilk to investigate these abuses, as it has done to determine alleged Russian interference through Facebook in the 2016 elections?
1985: Radio Martí began broadcasting, and five years later, the television aggression began when a television transmitter was put into service on board a captive aerostat at an altitude of 3,000 meters in one of the keys in the south of the state of Florida.
2005: Hurricane Dennis disappeared the captive balloon located at 10,000 feet above sea level in Cudjoe Key, from where Television Martí was broadcast. The OCB replaced it with the AeroMartí platform.
2014: OCB created the unwanted text messaging service Pyramid, which failed. Then it tried to smuggle small satellite devices into the island, but the project was aborted because in addition to being expensive, the “dissidents” used the terminals to view pornography.
2015: Deactivation of “AeroMartí”.
2018: President Trump created the Internet Task Force for Cuba, which according to the State Department “will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding access to the Internet and independent media in Cuba. Clearly, this Task Force has encouraged OCB’s digital fantasy.
Several investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have acknowledged that there is strong evidence that Radio and Television Martí is not heard or seen in Cuba. According to the Miami New Times, this saga has cost the American taxpayer more than $800 million.
TAKEN FROM: Desbloqueando Cuba