Let’s unmask Matteo Salvini’s Beast: one falsehood after another

Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini has four million fans on Facebook, over two million on Instagram. And a number of interactions with published content that no politician can even remotely equal: 16 million likes, comments and clicks in the last month on Facebook alone, almost 10 million on Instagram. His official pages on social networks are the most powerful propaganda tool that the former Minister of the Interior has at his disposal: a consent machine that dozens of his collaborators work on (led by Luca Morisi) and called in jargon “The Bestia “.

A well-oiled machine that, in order to accumulate likes and spread its word, hammers on immigration, sovereignty, plots and everything that can be useful to increase the consensus around Salvini. But even against this Goliath, there is no shortage of David who try to resist his power. And to propose something to take away his strength.

To try to dismantle the Beast post after post, we try a new initiative from the bottom, made by volunteers without political support. It’s called Smask.online and every day it tries to answer Salvini’s posts proposing a counter-narrative argued with sources and contexts.

«We have decided to launch our platform to do a digital pedagogy operation. It is important to make it clear that behind “Salvini”, which is only the symbol of a method, there is a professional project that uses a vocabulary designed to achieve success “, explains to Espresso one of the promoters of the platform (who prefer to sign themselves as Smask, without using your own names).

“It took us nearly a year to reconstruct the Beast’s lexicon. Because our target is not Salvini: he is just a character who plays a script ». A script made up of 150 keywords gathered in ten major thematic strands: the obsession with immigration, sovereignty, the epic of the “captain”, conspiracies and hoaxes. The image used by Smask to identify the Beast is that of an octopus whose tentacles are precisely these themes at the center of his constant propaganda.


To understand how Smask works, just go to the website or social channels of this recently launched project. The volunteers take a recent post from Salvini’s pages and “dismantle” it: they disprove the alleged falsehoods, place the statements in context, provide sources and precise data, reveal what is wrong with Salvini’s sentences or photos. A work that also uses the tools of fact-checking, but which points not only to the “sbufalazione”, as to the explanation of the dynamics and communicative tics of the Beast. For example, take the post with which Salvini quotes Pope John Paul II and it confronts the words of the pope on welcoming migrants , or the obsession with the theme of immigration is emphasized, used in combination with the pandemic for the sole purpose of stirring up fans on social media but without the two phenomena having any real connection .

“The Beast proposes a narrative and, to counter it, we need a counter-narrative. For this reason, every day we propose argued counter-posts, with sources, in response to Salvini’s propaganda. Our goal is to inject answers on the Net day by day, post after post », explain the promoters of Smask.online. The team is made up of about fifty people who include market researchers, economists, young people who deal with digital communication, teachers, designers, students and engineers. Residents in every part of Italy and also abroad. The project is not funded and does not accept funds from political parties or figures.

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«We want to build a community capable of counteracting operations such as those of the Beast on the digital terrain which, we are sure, will still prevail in the next political elections in Italy. We know that in reality we risk giving even more prominence to Salvini’s communication and it is a problem that we posed immediately. We have set ourselves the goal of speaking to those who underestimate this communication and do not take it seriously and also to that middle area of ​​people who understand the fact that they have been used by this communication ». And they want to rebel against the Beast.


Source: Rss l'Espresso by espresso.repubblica.it.

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