War and fake news

Fake news undeniably haunts the contemporary horizon. In recent years, the fight against disinformation has become one of the foundations of the contemporary political debate, unfortunately with poor results.

According to a Censis report, 29 million Italians declared that during the health emergency situation they came across news on the web that turned out to be false or wrong.

If the use of the expression fake news it is relatively recent – popularized during the American campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – the use of disinformation goes back a long way.

In this regard, I recommend reading a short essay by the historian Marc Bloch, published in 1921, entitled “The war and false news”, in which Bloch deciphered the mechanisms of collective psychology by explaining the success of the most unlikely “false news” circulated during the First World War.

For Marc Bloch, the paralysis or discrediting of traditional media was not enough to explain the spread of fake news. While “Methodological doubt is usually a sign of good mental health”, the fighting front-line soldiers were quick to believe what they needed to believe. “We easily believe what we have to believe” : this is the psychological force behind fake news.

A curious example is that of 1924, present in Bloch’s book, when the Germans invaded Belgium. Before the invasion, rumors spread among the German soldiers of the preventive installation of loopholes on all Belgian houses, which led to several stories about the brutality of the Belgians, imagined as ruthless snipers, when instead those cracks were openings in the wall that were needed. simply to mount the scaffolding in case of works on the facade.

Bloch’s book photographs a very different context, which can however provide a great starting point for reflection on the so-called “fake news” of our time.

Happy reading and good discernment.

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Source: Il Blog di Beppe Grillo by beppegrillo.it.

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