The government said they were spread by counter-revolutionaries, while the critics said it was the authorities themselves.

Fake news reports spread quickly after unprecedented Protests in Cuba. Among them: former President Raul Castro fled to an alliance with Venezuela, protesters kidnapped a provincial party secretary, and Caracas is sending troops.

This Cuban government They are said to be spread by counter-revolutionaries, while critics of the government say they may come from the authorities themselves. Neither of them provided evidence for their claims, and Reuters was unable to determine the source of these stories.

The government stated that the stories spread on social media and messaging apps on Sunday as part of a broader attempt by counter-revolutionaries backed by the United States to destabilize the country.

“What slander, what lies,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said late Wednesday when he exposed some fake news stories during a televised roundtable. “The way they use social media is toxic and alienating.”

“This is a manifestation of media terrorism,” he said.

Critics of the government say that the authorities may plant these stories in the muddy waters of the Internet, spread misinformation and spread chaos, so that no one believes that there will be unrest in the future.

Mexican communications expert Jose Raul Gallego (Jose Raul Gallego) wrote on Facebook: “Usually the national security agencies post such rumors after the fact… that they are a foreign-directed movement to manipulate Cubans, and therefore People no longer believe in information dissemination outside of government control.”

The government and some of its most famous critics urge Cubans to be careful not to share unverified information. Some of these stories were amplified by Cubans abroad cheering for the protests.

In recent years, the proliferation of manufactured or misleading videos and content on social media has become a common feature of social protests around the world, including Chile, Bolivia, the United States and France.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Cuba’s surrounding towns last Sunday to protest against the power outages, the surge in COVID-19, the widespread shortage of basic goods, and the one-party system.

These protests were Cuba’s largest protests in decades-where public dissent was restricted-and gradually subsided this week with the deployment of security forces and the mobilization of government supporters.

Early reports of Sunday’s protests were quickly replaced by Internet disruptions and restrictions on social media and messaging platforms. By Friday, the service gradually returned to normal.

The introduction of the mobile Internet more than two years ago and the subsequent boom in Cuban social media and independent news media have been key factors behind the protests.

Analysts say these tools provide a platform for Cubans to share and amplify their frustrations, and enable people to spread the word quickly when they are on the street. Many Cubans learned about Sunday’s protests on messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook.

Musician Alexander Delgado, member of the Cuban reggae band Gente de Zona, participates in a rally in solidarity with Cuban protesters near Little Havana in Miami, Florida, USA [Marco Bello/Reuters]

But the Cuban government, which has long monopolized the mass media, warned citizens not to believe in news and images shared on social media that may have been manipulated.

Posts that have been shared thousands of times in recent days have been incorrectly labeled as Cuban protests. Some of these photos show large crowds during the May Day parade in Cuba in 2018 or the protests in Egypt in 2011.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez accused social media platforms of investigating fake news generally only when they suspected of harming “strong people.”

He said at a press conference on Tuesday: “It is well known which monopolies operate in the digital field… how do they operate, in which countries/regions they have headquarters… and the level of political activity.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reinaldo Escobar, editor of the independent news website 14ymedio, said that regardless of who posted fake news and motives, many Cubans now have direct experience of participating in or observing genuine spontaneous demonstrations.

“This kind of large-scale behavior from the closet of fear will have consequences,” he said.


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