In these moments of uncertainty, emergency, social adaptation and a change in social dynamics , effective communication is essential – to maintain calm and for the State to adopt measures that help mitigate the health crisis .
Faced with this, the Government is leading this work in two fields: one that issues daily reports with the figures of new cases of covid-19 , deaths , recovered patients , and suspicious patients.
The other, instead, has focused on denying the dozens of false news that break into social networks to cause discomfort, fear and capsize in a way that undermines state credibility.
Photos, videos, audios taken out of context are part of the material that anonymous groups, false accounts or the so-called “troll center” spread on social networks. This has generated a traffic of 195 different false news per day, indicated to this newspaper, the Secretariat of Communication of the Presidency , which has had to deny these fake news .
Who is behind the fake news? Communication secretary Gabriel Arroba told EL TELÉGRAFO that it is a political group that intensified the bombardment of false news until April 7, when it was reduced to 30%. This after the judgment against former President Rafael Correa was passed .
Arroba commented that they verified that since the state of emergency for the coronavirus began , on March 16, 180 million interactions were recorded about the fake news that comes out on networks. This has hindered the Government’s communication work , which must also identify lies and deactivate them in time.
The official commented that it is not just about isolated phrases, memes, photos or videos , but well-mounted campaigns. For example, last week voice messages were circulated on WhatsApp that induced people to go out and buy groceries due to an alleged shortage . This was distorted by identifying and denouncing the flaw of the recording.
But the most serious was the images of alleged bodies burning in the streets of Guayaquil, which even misled the President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, who referred to this event in his Twitter account.
The head of Secom indicated that one of the videos was taken by a family who, in protest at the lack of care , burned tires on public roads, but was not a human body. Other citizens took out furniture and clothing from a relative who apparently died of the virus , because they believed they were infected and cremated them on the street.
He recalled that the crisis intensified in Guayaquil because private funeral homes stopped working, since many of their employees were in quarantine on suspicion of contagion. But once Jorge Wated, president of BanEcuador and who leads the Joint Task Force , took charge of this issue, the response time of the corpse removals was improved, “which at the moment are carried out in a maximum of 12 hours,” he said. .
Arroba revealed that the information of the suspects who presumably generated fake news was taken to the Prosecutor’s Office to take political advantage of the situation.
On the subject, the lawyer Esteban Ron specified that the State is the fundamental axis to present the information , “constantly”. He added that the dispersion of spokespersons causes some rejection, since not all enjoy acceptance.
For Christian Espinosa of Digital Coverage , there are politicians who attack their adversary to damage their reputation. “They do it through fake news, using negative emotions that outrage.”