Phenomena occur in the media field, which can have a bad effect on the overall situation, both short-term and long-term.
The path of media development in Armenia has been difficult. The Internet has grown year by year, which in any case has always been freer than the traditional press.
As the Internet grew, so did problems. Today, the impact of the Internet is not as large-scale or unprecedented, as we tended to say a few years ago, but it has become the main domain that shapes the flow of information and public opinion.
In such conditions, the Internet becomes the main platform of the information struggle between the authorities and the opposition. If in the case of the traditional press this struggle was often about control (the authorities always tried to have as few uncontrollable media as possible), then in the case of the Internet the rules of the game are changing.
Complete control is almost impossible here. In the case of Armenia, we can say for sure that it is impossible because it is very costly and at the same time inefficient.
Control is impossible in terms of resources, as in many cases the center of influence is not the media, but individuals or even anonymous users, who in Armenia are called “fake” left and right.
The current authorities, which include many journalists and editors, have in fact begun to lose control of the Internet, where they had a dominant influence two years ago. The control that they had two years ago was organic, it did not require oppressive mechanisms or actions, which the current authorities were fighting against when they were not in power yet.
Months and years passed. During that time many things changed on the Internet. On the one hand, the opposition forces accumulated great resources here. On the other hand, the authorities did not learn to be a government on the Internet, they remained live specialists with the mindset of the opposition.
No general state information policy was created.
One minister worked on Facebook, the other on Twitter. The voice of the third was not even heard. One had a speaker who spoke, one had a speaker who only listened. I haven’t even begun talking about the terrible consequences of the war. As a result of all this, the centers of influence on the Internet began to change and reshape.
And then the authorities decided to regulate the Internet and the media field in general. What regulation? They decided to put them in their place. And amazing things started to take place one after the other.
For several weeks it was suggested not to allow journalists to cite anonymous sources. Then it turned out that there was a project by which they wanted to criminalize slander against state officials. Now it turns out that many people are brought in to catch fake profiles that use swear words online because it is suspected that they are the ones who run that fake profile.
And during all that time, the fake calmly continues cursing those who hunt them.
The strangest thing is the high-tech idea behind this fake hunt. According to the lawyer of one of the detainees, people are suspected just because they use the same ProtonVPN program as the unobtrusive fake. The audience of which, by the way, has sharply increased as a result of this hunt.
There is no definite official information, the only clarity comes from the words of the lawyers, from which it follows that the only proof is the use of ProtonVPN. And, I suppose, there are also deep suspicions and concerns, on the basis of which people have been detained for two months.
This is the same when, for example, it is known that a person driving a gray Opel has committed a crime and the police arrest all those who drive Opels. And arrest the most suspicious.
Apart from the fact that we are going down a very bad path and destroying the foundations of democracy, we do not understand that all this will not be effective. To initiate such a thing is to live in illusions.
Democracy is sacrificed in the struggle against pointedly small problems.
They want to ban referencing anonymous sources just to fight against one or two Telegram channels. Legislation against defamation is a way to fight only a few people. There no longer are bigger ambitions.
This is not even a route of dictatorship, but just a complex road of deepening and comprehensive chaos.
It is a fake fight against fakes.
The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.