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The criminals emerge from the hoax

They deal with emergencies and with the falsehoods spread by the same networks that Vost Euskadi volunteers use to report. And they warn of the strong economic and political interests behind it.

ATraffic accidents, forest fires, missing persons, weather alerts, denials of false information … The Vost Euskadi team of emergency professionals is used to dealing with surprises on a daily basis. There are fourteen volunteers who through social networks inform and communicate to the population any alert that arises, relevant incidents to which, now, a new emergency is added: hoax crime and the lie that runs freely on the Internet. “They are the most dangerous. They start up real social engineering operations and launch campaigns based on lies, half-truths and false information behind which strong political and economic interests are hidden,” warns Jokin Zubieta, head of Vost Euskadi.

This past year they have been very busy with the coronavirus and, although the situation has relaxed in recent months, they do not lower their guard. “At first it was a horror, we couldn’t cope,” recalls Jokin. Now, day-to-day emergencies have returned as, with the end of the state of alarm and mobility restrictions, other emergencies almost disappeared during the toughest months of the pandemic, such as traffic accidents, disappearances …

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the Telegram channel and a free WhatsApp alert service, in which more than 3,000 people have already registered in exchange for receiving information on relevant incidents (disappearance of people, alerts due to adverse weather conditions, denials of information with potential risk to the population …) are the channels used by volunteers to convey information to citizens. But they have also launched a message service designed to communicate with citizens who do not connect to the Internet, either because they are older people, or because they are fed up with “all the noise” that surrounds social networks and they have decided to find out only what more relevant through official channels. His latest initiative has been to activate a voice service (podcast) for people with reading difficulties, attended by eight volunteers who hang on the web the communications by means of audios.

Another of the missions of the team made up of Pablo, Alazne, Kepa, Randa, Amaya, Irene or Isabel is to detect and neutralize an early warning against possible misinformation harmful to the population. “There are many hoaxes and not only about the pandemic, although with the covid we have reached the ceiling. There are people who request volunteers to search for a missing person or to put out a forest fire without any official body having made such a call; they invent it. and it is dangerous “, warns the head of Vost Euskadi.

So who spreads these hoaxes and why? On the one hand, they are people with a pathological or unhealthy tendency to spread falsehoods. “Just like an arsonist who breaks down with his creation,” exemplifies Jokin Zubieta. Then there are the people who for fun or entertainment and without having any awareness of the consequences that what they do may have, divulge half truths or lies as if it were a game. “Within this group we also find the figure of the Good Samaritan. He is a person who believes that he is doing good, that he has to help and what he achieves is the opposite, hindering. For example, he thinks it is good to donate blood and makes a massive call to donate blood, without measuring the consequences, “he explains. This is what happened to them a few years ago with the derailment of an Alvia train in Santiago de Compostela. Someone said: “everyone to donate blood and god’s was mounted; telephone lines and citizen clinics collapsed, in some cases, not suitable for making donations due to illness or other causes. And a fat woman got involved. It is a good example of what not to do. Before acting, it is advisable to consult official organizations because, many times, good ideas are not so good, “he says.

the most dangerous The last group, the most dangerous, is that of hoax criminals. It sounds strong, yes, but it is not such a crazy definition, since behind many of these lies, scams and scams there is a clear lucrative interest. “With the covid there have been many operations of social engineering, political interests in the wild, half-truths that are emitted to confuse or for society to confront …, a lot of fabric to cut,” he says. It is true that the majority, with good will, want to help but, unfortunately, they do not do it well, “says Jokin Zubieta. In fact, the WHO has already warned of the infodemic, that is, of the amount of false information or half-truths disclosed about the covid.

“The communication paradigm has changed brutally. Now, any citizen with a mobile phone can write and broadcast a news item, a photo or a video. We are in an information society so interconnected that, behind each citizen, there may be a means of communication, but we must flee from the misnamed citizen journalism because forwarding or retweeting content does not make you a journalist. And now, nothing is verified, we inform ourselves based on WhatsApp headlines, more attention is paid to that than to an official medium. This misinformation is very dangerous, “he laments.

For this reason, in Vost Euskadi it is essential to educate the population in new technologies because there is a great training deficit: “Before sharing a wasap, we should quarantine it if it is not official; I do not doubt that the sender has all the good will in the world, but … be careful “, warns Jokin Zubieta.

“There are many hoaxes and not only about the pandemic, although with the covid we have reached the ceiling,” acknowledge the Vost Euskadi volunteers

They recommend ‘quarantining’ any wasap before sharing it if it is not official, no matter how good it is

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