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Edition #8
Rio de Janeiro, 2005

Internet, our greatest ally against information manipulation

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By Bruno Privatti

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TAGS: activism, lgbt, videos

The history of the world is always told from the perspective of the winner/explorer. We rarely (or almost never) hear the version of the loser/exploited. What did they have to say? And what about the biographies of heroes that almost never recount their defeats?

In the history of Brazil, for example, we always hear that Dom Pedro I courageously proclaimed independence on the banks of the Ipiranga River with the cry "Independence or death!" That's what textbooks teach us and what our teachers pass on to us. But today we know that it wasn't quite like that... Dom Pedro never shouted that cry, and independence was much less "glamorous" than it is painted (he was actually wearing pajamas at the time of the proclamation...). But the victor doesn't want to project a dull, unexciting image, so they "romanticize" their biography, and as the saying goes, "a lie told often enough becomes the truth"... This is a human tendency, wanting to be seen as "untouchable", "unbeatable."

But it's not just about looking good. Often, information manipulation aims to maintain power, even if it means hiding the real (rotten) truth behind the scenes... Let's look at a classic example:

In the 1980s, Rede Globo manipulated the elections for governor of Rio de Janeiro, trying to prevent the election of Leonel Brizola, who was openly opposed to that TV network. The fraud was uncovered and exposed by Jornal do Brasil. A few years later, Globo again manipulated information, this time editing favorably for candidate Fernando Collor in a debate with the other candidate, Lula. Collor ended up winning the election thanks to the "help" of Rede Globo. And more recently, in the presidential election campaign between Serra and Dilma, Rede Globo manipulated news in favor of Serra when a protester threw a paper ball at his head, and Globo implied that a stone had been thrown, sensationalizing the "lack of civility" of Dilma's supporters. They even sent a reporter to the front of a hospital claiming Serra was under observation when he wasn't even there... These are just three cases of information manipulation among the countless ones done by Rede Globo.

Fortunately, nowadays, with the Internet, people can learn about the "rotten" things that happen not only in the media but also in political backrooms. Look at the recent case of Wikileaks, which publishes leaked messages between American diplomats around the world, and we find out a lot about what happens behind the scenes in politics. Wikileaks has faced a lot of opposition from those affected, notably the U.S. government, which tries in every way to undermine its service. The site cannot be arbitrarily shut down because the American Constitution guarantees the right to full and unrestricted freedom of expression, but they can certainly weaken it, pressuring, for example, companies like PayPal, Visa, and Apple to stop supporting Wikileaks - but now the "damage is done"... Even if Wikileaks were to close (which is unlikely, as its founder has no intention of stopping its activities, and because the site has many supporters worldwide), we have already learned all the stories that were previously hidden from the public. Now, American diplomats will have to find new ways to communicate freely without being caught in the act...

The fact is that, even with the Internet helping to reveal the truth behind the distorted information that reaches us through official media, we will still be deceived by them. They simply have no interest in changing this structure. But at least they will always have the internet as their enemy. Information monopoly is a thing of the past nowadays... Newspapers and governments may continue to manipulate everything, but today these pieces of information have a better chance of being exposed. It's no longer possible to control information... The world is changing. Look at the case of Egypt, which overthrew a 30-year dictatorship thanks to mobilization via the Internet (which, by the way, was even blocked during the protests - that shows you the government's level of desperation). The world will never be the same with the free flow of information provided by the Internet.

Let's celebrate these new times where information is no longer imprisoned and runs free and unrestricted on the Internet!

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