The Informational Velvet Crisis

23.07.2018, Critique

Main interests: blogs, social networks, new media, information security.

If someone hasn’t noticed, let me say that Armenia is experiencing one of its worst informational crises. The number and quality of misinformation, propaganda and manipulation is unprecedented. There is an obvious negative trend. This situation didn’t exist during military operations.

There was a similar situation in 2012-2014 in the pre-election stage, however during that time, the influence of social media wasn’t as strong, and the present developments are hardly comparable. Moreover, the ruling elite was not represented online, which restricted the information flow much more.

The current situation is much more “noisy”, it’s gotten to the point that the top leadership of the country is involved in troll wars on social networks.

All of this, today, has several reasons. The most understandable is that a number of political forces have an issue in resisting the current authorities in information field. It’s also already obvious, that the current ruling coalition also has internal divisions within itself, which will become stronger towards the elections and will become expressed in the information field, taking into consideration, that all sides have strong media influences. A series of large businesses have also entered the game, who have different issues to solve at different times.  

But this is not the only reason. We have to take into consideration that during the previous government’s rule, an information field was already formed, there were divided roles, there were appointed roles. The new situation has completely destroyed the former system, informational chaos has begun, where they have all become equal.

  1. Professional news media

  2. Yellow press

  3. Anonymous and suspicious websites of unknown origins

  4. Widely different Facebook pages, who’s admins are for the most part unknown

  5. Different Facebook users, who have fakes among them to the point of impersonating the deputy prime ministers.

Naturally, when the dry mixes with the wet to form a homogeneous aggregate situation, informational chaos arises.

Let’s not forget about external actors. Azerbaijani propaganda periodically penetrates the Armenian field. Recently, there were also a series of Russian news outlets which began to launch manipulative actions.

At the same time, there are issues in the cabinet, which adds to the chaos.

  1. At the highest level, members of the government are involved in troll wars

  2. The relationship between the leader and the spokesperson are not clear, and the functions of the spokespeople on the internet domain are also not clear

  3. There have been serious problems with traditional media inquiries, and in fact, the law of freedom of information is being hindered.  

All of these factors together create an environment that becomes fertile soil for both informational chaos and guided informational conflict, propaganda wars. The situation requires the government to formulate a clear information policy. So then, trainings can be conducted on the basis of this policy, both for the staff of the government and for spokespeople. Otherwise, the crisis will automatically intensify.

Samvel Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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