truth-liesDecades ago, people are having problem to access information. Today, people are flooded with information from overwhelming sources. Many of those information are plain false. Some are even intentionally written to provoke hate and conflict.

As it becomes easier to share information, some people manipulate information for their own benefits. At the extreme, some did the manipulation to literally kill other human beings through the hands of clueless people who truly believe what they read is true. The most powerful weapon on this planet today is no longer nuclear weapon, it is the control and manipulation of information.

Not everyone has some decency in self-filtering information they read. When a set of provoking lies are distributed using coordinated methods through many medias repeatedly over long time, some will believe those lies wholeheartedly. In many cases (but not always), the issues are things around religion and politics. Some others are just trying to get more clicks and likes in social media by creating misleading titles, and sadly many readers will never read the actual articles, but I am not going to discuss about this clickbait trend here. I am going to focus on information that are written plain wrong, with intention to “move” other people to do what the writer wants.

Sadly, not everyone has self-filtering capability.


Spreading false information in politics

In the early years of social media, people use social media to speak up. Old fashioned politicians did not think the movement was strong enough to affect their positions. They were wrong. Some politicians who embraced social media quickly gained popularity and some new world leaders were born from the new emerging trend. Everything sounded good and the future never looked better.

That was until people with power and money realises that they need to adjust their usual strategy to embrace the new era of information. Politicians and big corporations pay for high-profile “social media experts” to take care of their interests. They quickly understand one major flaw of social media: they can actually pay people to say things to manipulate even more people. If the mainstream media would not publish news of their interests, they can easily make their own new news sites.

Indeed, social media is based on people. Social media gave birth to new news websites. Just make new sites, hire few people to maintain them, pay for many others to start spreading news from that new site in social media. This is actually cheaper than the classic methods of propaganda if they know how to play it well. In the end, the most dominant news that we will read is probably influenced by those “social media projects” sponsored by few elites with special agendas. In some countries, we already have politicians who own their own TV stations and newspapers. Depending on the owner’s interest, people can actually read a news about the same issue written in total opposite tones. Some of these medias are shamelessly write news about something the opposite from what really happened.

In the name of some ideals and political promises, some countries are split into different groups. People hate others from other groups and will even harm other human beings for a delusional promises he was made to believe. Thanks to the new era of information.

Again, not everyone has sufficient self-filtering capability.


Spreading false information in the name of (any) religion

Religion is always a sensitive topic back from old time. We have learned from our history how people can do unimaginable cruelty in the name of religion.

Don’t get me wrong. I still want to believe that (any) religion would not actually teach such actions, but the fact remains that religion is one of the easiest method for some people to manipulate others. In many cases, it was NEVER about the actual religion itself. It was for the greed of power, and money, and the need to be treated superior. Using religion is one of the most effective way to scare people so they would do things they normally would not. It is the most effective way to “offer” people some “reward” by saying anything they want, because by promising things that will happen after people die, these manipulators will never ever need to actually fulfill those rewards.

In the name of religion, people kill other human beings. Words can manipulate people to do terrors and actually wishing for wars. It becomes way too easy for terror groups to spread their teachings and recruit naive new followers. Thanks to the new era of information.

Again, not everyone has sufficient self-filtering capability.


Now what?

It is not just about politics and religion.

Information has became a new type of weapon. A super powerful weapon. Sadly, it’s a double-edged weapon. We can use it for good, but we can also use it to commit the darkest crime.

The challenge of good governments in 21st century is how to control these. As much I believe in freedom of speech, some control IS needed and required to make sure clueless younger generation would know which side of these information is the correct one. Because freedom of speech does not (and should not) include freedom to spread hate based on lies.