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Ilya Ber: “Fighting fakes is a long game”

Ilya Ber: “Fighting fakes is a long game”

The expert of the project “The Earth Is Flat - How to read media?”, a lecturer at the RANEPA, the host of the “Checked” headings on RTVI, Ilya Ber, spoke about the most ridiculous fakes that are distributed during infodemics, shared his online teaching experience and explained why media literacy training should be ubiquitous.

- Ilya, can you name the top 5 fakes about coronavirus?

- Top, of course, is difficult to make ... But there are such fakes. The order is unimportant.

The first is that coronavirus is spread via 5G towers. This is of course a class! Cellular. They speak of two options: either the virus spreads directly through the towers, or the towers simply weaken the general immunity due to radiation ... and this means that the body is easily attacked by a virus.

The second fake. Wonderful story I came across. Allegedly, a vaccine from Covid-19 is already being tested in Senegal, and seven children died on the spot after being vaccinated.

The third fake from the pleasant and harmless is the poem that appeared by Pushkin, allegedly written in quarantine in Boldino. Where the poet congratulates people on the holiday of spring.

The fourth fake about the fact that everything that came up was invented by Bill Gates for a variety of reasons. And for the fact that I tried to support him, I received and get a huge number of haters and dislikes. My first experience is when the number of dislikes is almost equal to the number of likes on the video.

The fifth fake is a story that appeared at the beginning that Russia pretends that there is no pandemic in order to vote on the Constitution on April 21. And until there is no vote, there will be no quarantine, so we all get sick and die.

- And you saw, in the media there is information that doctors recommend walking in the fresh air. Allegedly this is the best prophylaxis against coronavirus. Is this another fake stuff because people are tired of sitting at home?

- It’s very hard for people. It’s clear that walking is good. It's silly to argue with that. I do not know how all this is scientifically proven, but the logic of the considerations is obvious. In this case, of course, this has nothing to do with coronavirus. Fresh air or not — anyway.

- What changes in the media sphere will remain after the epidemic and infodemic pass? What is your forecast, that they changed forever or strengthened?

- All forecasts for the future are an ungrateful thing, but it is obvious how most people were forced to master live formats of just about anything. This does not mean that everything will go into these formats, by the way, another fake or horror story: everything was done specifically to close schools and universities and transfer everyone to distance learning.

Of course, they will not close anything, but these methods of communication, including education, will be included in the generally accepted set or range of possibilities. They have been there for a long time, but still their share was quite narrow. Now it is clearly expanding.

- How has your work with students on the course of information verification changed?

- All of it naturally went online. The course content has not changed much. We discuss issues and problems on the material of the modern and current agenda, which I always try to give to students. From the point of view of the lesson itself, I don’t see big losses, although it’s still more pleasant to teach in person, there is a sense of the audience, and you see who, how, where — with you or not with you now. But it cannot be said that this is critical. Well, in my opinion, yet.

Now I even accepted retakes of an exam from six students over the past semester through Zoom, and in this regard it was even more convenient. I now think that the exams, perhaps, will be more convenient to take in this way than in person. You can clearly segment communication when, for example, different students should tell you the same material. In reality, you are forced to either breed them in time or ask them to leave the audience. It is not comfortable. And here you can even “sit down” students in different “classrooms” even within the same conference. I came to one — listened, then released him, went to another — listened and so on. In this sense, technologically it’s even more convenient for me.

- During the discussion with Vasily Gatov, you, Vasily and Alexander Arkhipova agreed with each other that the number of fakes is increasing and people are increasingly reposting them. It turns out that neither the long-term experience of using social networks, nor the experience of interacting with gadgets in general, nor the educational work of many, many organizations and individual authors in the field of media literacy, the development of critical thinking gives zero result?

- Well let's be honest. In proportion to the population, the number of organizations and, in general, what has been done in this direction is insignificant in Russia, and the world is not that great either. It is impossible to talk about the results. We are just inside this process, but we reach hundreds of people, well, maybe several thousand, and there are millions of them. There must be a general awareness of the problem. Further, the teaching of media literacy should be totalized at all levels, starting from kindergarten.

Then, perhaps, after some years, when repeating a similar situation — and it will somehow or other not be repeated with an epidemic, but with some kind of global crises and problems — there will be more votes that will try to suppress frank conspiracy theories, nonsense, and people will not be so obviously reposting fakes that are very easily verified and refutable. This is a long game. Nothing can work so fast.

- You started your broadcast about fake news on RTVI just on the eve of an infodemiс and at once appeared on a front line. How much more difficult has it become to search and expose fakes?

- Just the choice has become very rich. In a calm time there are not so many interesting fakes. And here, of course, you have to choose. On the one hand, it simplifies my work, and on the other, it complicates it.

Yes, now is a very hot time. I constantly feel myself in the center of events. Of course, I'm not a doctor, but I have my own front line. Infodemiс has already been announced, and everyone seems to have recognized that this is really such a scourge. And in general, I am a person who fights against it, actively collecting material and further, I think, I will return to this material for quite some time. We need to work on it, somehow generalize it.

So far, theories that have been known are confirmed. Although this is scary, because when you see that yesterday normal sane calm people, on the wave of clearly some kind of psychosis, begin to post complete nonsense and cease to be capable of critical thinking, it scares you. Trying on yourself: and if I get into some kind of crisis situation, then this can happen to me too? This is unpleasant. But everyone hopes that this will not happen to him.

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