Home Chronicle The trend of fake news

The trend of fake news

Ana Sofia Fonseca*

Strings and more strings. From the shoulder to the belly, the body in ropes. Every night, Old Man of the Strings, loomed at my grandmother’s door, sure of a plate of food and a glass of wine.

The ropes weighed his step, dressed the torso. He ate in silence and disappeared into the darkness. How long would the hanged future bring? Nobody knew who it was, where it came from. No matter how old it was. Identity fades faster than you think. He was the Old Man of the Strings, a beggar on the streets of the village. One night, the dish cooled down waiting for him. For the first time in more than a decade, the Old Man of the Strings did not show up for dinner. The following night, the same absence. Gradually, the village became alarmed by the disappearance. I would be dead. I could only have died. Hopefully, sickness, badness did not deserve. Ditches were searched, but neither body nor ropes. After a few weeks, death was decreed. The last handout, a mass for your soul. “Eternal rest”, Old Man of the Strings.

The months flew by, Christmas came. Spiked knife pumpkins, oil on fire. The kitchen full of women around french toast and donut. Two girls playing, upstairs and downstairs. I remember it like it was today. Suddenly, the unthinkable: “O girl, is your grandmother there?” Before the voice, the sound. That sound of footsteps on earth. It was the same, the body wrapped in ropes. It almost looked alive. The fright was screamed, the amazement pushed us down the stairs. We had never seen an undead before. We screamed into the kitchen: “There is Old man of the Strings!” Lungs with fierce force, but the women didn’t want to know the truth. They shooed us off, shutting up the messenger is the easiest. But the truth was on its way. Suddenly, the unthinkable in the sight of all. The Old Man of the Strings at the kitchen door. Bowls, screams and sleepers flew. The symphony of panic. Would he have risen? Soulmate was certainly not. I could only be alive. It was almost 40 years ago, but I have no idea. The death of old man of the strings is the first false news in my memory. I was far from imagining how much fake news would deserve our alarm.

Sometimes you have to put your hand in the pocket of some to avoid knees on the neck of others

In recent days, several multinationals have announced the withdrawal of advertising investment from social networks like Facebook. They do so following the #stophateforprofit campaign, which raises its voice against the spread of hate speech and false news, sponsored by Zuckerberg’s company. The positioning of the brands has already made Facebook lose millions of dollars and its responsible person promises greater care. Sometimes, you have to put your hand in the pocket of some to avoid knees on the neck of others.

But the war on fake news has to be daily and it has to be all of us. This is the struggle for democracy. For our survival. At a time when misinformation throws sand in our eyes, journalism is more important than ever. The information that runs through social networks is cooked for clicks and, therefore, has to ignite the crowd. The information served is not the same for everyone, what we see is filtered by algorithms programmed to meet our tastes. Anyone who feeds on disinformation knows that a lie a thousand times repeated starts to look like truth and that some people prefer to see their convictions applauded than confronted by the boring truth. Those who are interested in crime are bombarded by “news” – many of which are manipulated – about thefts and deaths. So many, that he doesn’t believe or care about the studies that indicate Portugal as one of the safest cardinal points. In countries like Brazil or the United States, fake news has won elections. The result is in sight. And it is not beautiful to see. Rather bowls, screams and sleepers through the air. The Old Man of the Strings alive.


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