The government spokesperson said that “it is a very sensitive issue in our century, particularly because we are facing a debate that is global” and once again called for the commission formed to study the issue and propose measures to be taken. Camila Vallejo took part in the forum “The challenge of communications in the face of social transformations”, held as part of the Fiesta de los Abrazos, where the director of the newspaper El Siglo, Hugo Guzmán, argued that “in these times, in the context of processes of transformation, various presidents and communications experts suggest that what needs to be communicated should be on the walls, in the streets, on social networks, in the print media, on the radio, on a variety of platforms”. Patricio López, director of Radio Universidad de Chile, said that “the functioning of the mass media in societies where it is increasingly difficult to exchange information in person is essential to the proper functioning of democracy”. Pía Figueroa, co-director of the Pressenza agency, pointed out that one perspective that stands out in the thematic agenda of alternative media is “all efforts in favour of peace, the fulfilment of human rights, care for the environment, non-discrimination, nonviolence in any of its manifestations, and understanding between people and peoples”. Meanwhile, Marcos Barraza, in charge of the Communications Area of the Communist Party, said that “the central issue is that without democratic institutions in communications, democracy is not complete” and pointed out that “a central component of democracies is access to information, the possibility of pluralism of information, of diversity, of ideas, as an expression of popular sovereignty, and if it does not exist, it is not complete”.
The phenomenon of disinformation “is a threat to democracy and we have to see how we can tackle it precisely to protect fundamental rights such as freedom of expression”, said the Minister of the Secretary General of Government (Segegob), Camila Vallejo, while participating in the forum “The challenge of communications in the face of social transformations”, held as part of the Fiesta de los Abrazos.
She emphasised that disinformation or misinformation “affects democracy, affects social coexistence and can have very specific impacts on people”, adding that “we know that it is a complex issue, that it is a global phenomenon and that it probably has very delicate limits”.
The government spokesperson said that “it is a very sensitive issue in our century, particularly because we are facing a global debate on disinformation; misinformation as they say, which is poor quality information, because disinformation and information that is disseminated to deceive, is factually incorrect, poor quality, erroneous information, which is not necessarily disinformation”.
She went on to say that “talking about the right to communication, the right to information, freedom of the press, is directly related to the democratic challenges we have in our country”.
Camila Vallejo pointed out that “disinformation spreads much faster than truthful information. Disinformation spreads and feeds polarised environments. Disinformation is based more on emotion than on rational arguments or scientific data, and it mobilises quickly because it is very emotional”.
He said that in Chile it is an issue that should be discussed and “we can reach common minimums to see how to confront this phenomenon”, even though sectors of the press and the opposition criticised the creation and functioning of a commission against disinformation generated by the Segegob.
On this work, and despite questioning, he pointed out that basic recommendations were made, such as inter-institutional coordination, to see if the content is moderated when it is recognised that there is hate speech or disinformation, and whether or not all electoral political advertising is made transparent.
The commission recommended “giving more powers to electoral bodies, in this case the Servel. At one point it had it for the vote, it was able to fine Google because Google did not report on paid advertising”. She recalled that there were “72 proposals for public policy, actions and regulations”.
The minister said that in the face of this situation, “journalism, the work of communicators, is key to teach literacy, to educate and to communicate with a sense of ethics”.
On the criticisms that appear when talking about the responsibility of the state in these matters, questioning whether it should take measures, the Segegob minister indicated that “everything is in line with what international organisations have said, that it would never have occurred to them to say that governments should not get involved, that states should not get involved in this. No, on the contrary, they would say, please, get involved in this issue”.
In addition to minister Camila Vallejo, the forum was attended by the director of Radio Universidad de Chile, Patricio López, the co-director of the Pressenza agency, Pía Figueroa, the head of the Communications Area of the Communist Party, Marcos Barraza, and moderated by the director of the newspaper El Siglo, Hugo Guzmán.
Communicating from the walls, the social networks, the print media, and the radio
Hugo Guzmán, director of El Siglo, argued that “in these times, within the framework of processes of transformation, various presidents and communication experts from Latin America, Europe and the United States are proposing that what needs to be communicated should be on the walls, in the streets, on social networks, in the print media, on the radio, in other words, on a diversity of platforms”. He added: “This is what we at the newspaper El Siglo have defined as the complementation of the media”.
He said that “it is not in vain – so that even from prejudice it is not said that these are issues only for the left or counter-hegemonic media – organisations such as the OECD and UNESCO propose establishing measures and public policies to tackle disinformation, strengthen public communication, make proper use of new technologies, move towards more informed communication, eliminate gender gaps in this ambit and have adequate legislation, as well as governance for digital platforms”.
“The functioning of the media is consubstantial to the functioning of democracy”.
Patricio López, director of Radio Universidad de Chile, said that “the functioning of the mass media in societies where it is increasingly difficult to have face-to-face exchanges, as we have now, is inherent to the proper functioning of democracy”.
He added that the role of communication “there are certain actors in Chilean society who have it clear and that is why they operate in the way they do. Sometimes they talk about issues of financing, other times they invoke issues such as freedom of the press so that the state does not intervene more, but at the end of the day this is not a problem of values, but a purely ideological problem”.
In this context, the journalist pointed out that, in contrast, the issue “has not necessarily been a priority for political projects that are committed to social transformation. If you review, for example, the progressive candidacies from 1989 to the present, most of them have very few or no mentions of this issue, even though it is fundamental in this day and age.
“An agenda that considers information as a social good”.
Pía Figueroa, co-director of Pressenza, emphasised that “increasingly elitist and ruthless neoliberalism…does not hesitate to use media manipulation and the perversion of journalistic practice to serve its interests”.
She pointed out that “this is why the best intentions of emancipation must contend with a discourse of hate and defamation, a malicious strategy that seeks to drag in distrust and suspicion to diminish social participation and political participation as much as possible”.
She stressed that “at the basis of this is the understanding that human consciousness is not passive, on the contrary, it is active and capable of endowing meaning, influencing what we so naively call objective reality”.
The Pressenza representative said “this is the starting point for a type of intentional narrative that we believe is fundamental to open up the future. A perspective that highlights in its thematic agenda all efforts in favour of peace, the fulfillment of human rights, care for the environment, non-discrimination, nonviolence in any of its manifestations, understanding between people and peoples”.
He added: “An agenda that considers information as a social good and that places itself at a distance from the manipulations of the powerful and the leaders who currently spread a toxic cloud of hatred and falsification intending to manipulate people’s information and prevent them from freely choosing other life options”.
“Without democratic institutionality in communications, democracy is not complete”.
Addressing the issue of communications in the processes of transformation, Marcos Barraza, in charge of the Communications Area of the Communist Party, said that “the central thing is that without democratic institutionality in communications, democracy is not complete”.
He pointed out that “a central component of democracies is access to information, the possibility of pluralism of information, of diversity, of ideas, as an expression of popular sovereignty, and if it does not exist, it is not complete”.
Regarding the issue of communications in the country, Barraza said that “there is really no scientific or political discussion on communication and its relationship with politics, there is no discussion from the point of view of the artifacts with which to disseminate and on the institutional framework in which to sustain these challenges. As a result, serious problems that affect civic life and democracy are made invisible or distorted.
Thus, he indicated that “it is evident that in the last period, a victory of the corporate powers has been consolidated in this area that has allowed them to use the entire communications system to operate in favour of their interests in inverse correlation to what has been the evolution of politics. And the corporate powers permeate the consciousness”.
“It is a self-criticism that we have to make, that there is no will to bring about changes in terms of institutions and structures for communications,” he warned.
Along these lines, he said that “it is necessary to reiterate the need to have a fully democratic institutional framework for communications”.