Riddle me this: When is a Trending Topic NOT a trending topic? Courtesy of Patria Grande, here comes a wake-up call for all you internauts who love Venezuela, and who want to keep abreast of all the dirty tricks of empire:
Today, the Trending Topics of Twitter woke to the hashtag #QEPDHugoChávez (#RIPHugoChavez). This phenomenon may appear “spontaneous”, massive, and communitarian, but in case you didn’t believe it, it came from the laboratories of the North, and in this article we will demonstrate that fact.
The trending topics on Twitter, or TTs , are, in theory, the topics most talked about in the debates of the social network. Recently, with the Occupy demonstrations in various cities of the United States, it was demonstrated that Twitter censors topics, but we have found out something much more interesting: the administrators of the social network promote topics, in some cases admitting that it is a promotion on the part of Twitter, and, in other cases, no. Trending topics are not always those which are being most tweeted. This opens the possibility that Twitter can determine politically and ideologically the conversation in microblogging form. Suppose that, in order for a topic to become a trend, it must fulfill certain criteria, such as language, popularity, total number of tweets, and total number of users, but above all that it be a new topic or, if it was a formerly popular topic, it has been picked up by a new group of users. According to these parameters, the hashtag #QEPDHugoChávez should not be one of the TTs. Twitter should remove TT topics when it is the same group of users tweeting, not new people, or when the topic surreptitiously incites assassination.
The control of Twitter over Trending Topics is not just any old thing. They are in the position to penalize commentaries — in fact, they even reserve the right to close an account if you use more than one unrelated hashtag to get attention or repeat a topic or hashtag without adding anything new to the discussion. Write on all topics to attract people to your profile, especially if you’re seeking publicity, or if you want to be followed on Trending Topics.
Twitter has a “secret formula” to select Trending Topics, which it has not revealed, and at the same time uses politically and ideologically.
Cyberwar: Twitter vs. Venezuela
On Twitter, for example, the hashtag #FreeVenezuela united, for some time, fascist sectors with greater or lesser degree of commitment in destabilization tactics, but whose objective was, and remains, the same: Get rid of Chávez.
The surge of this hashtag had nothing to do with spontaneity; it appeared on February 2, the day Venezuelans celebrated the 10th anniversary of Chávez taking power. The promoters of this “initiative” were in the National College of Journalists, the Press Workers’ Union, and the Graphic Reporters’ Circle, by way of a call to action published in the [right-wing] newspaper El Nacional. Impartiality?
Enrique Ubieta followed the rise of the hashtag and described its amazing elevation to the most important topics on Twitter: “In the first ten minutes #FreeVenezuela appeared eighth on the list of the top ten topics; 20 minutes later it was in fourth place, and after one hour of tweets, it was in third. For two hours it remained there. It was the first time a Venezuelan topic appeared on a list that supposedly reflects the highest levels of concurrency. Internet rarities, some may say; useless suspicions, according to others. But there is one easily detectable fact that no one in the media commented on: Of the some 300 initial internauts, more than 65% were tweeting from the United States, and another 25% from Colombia. A Venezuelan protest?”
Google’s “How to Kill Chávez”
It’s not the first time Chávez has been assassinated on the Internet. In the past, if you entered the word “how” on a Google search, the first option it displayed was “How to kill Chávez”, even without the words “to kill”.
Google, Facebook and Twitter are politicized companies, in that they not only put weight on the ideological components, but the economic factors as well. The government of the United States uses the technologies “to resolve local matters before they become regional conflicts”.
Even during the government of George W. Bush, the Internet demonstrated itself as an alternative within the strategies of fourth-generation warfare. Today, it is a fundamental point of politico-ideological advance for the empire. With the arrival of Obama in the White House, the Web and its communicational possibilities have been institutionalized as a mechanism of political destabilization.
On January 21, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized that the administration conceptualizes and structures “21st Century Diplomacy”, in which the Internet plays a key role which also supersedes traditional mechanisms.
In her speech, Clinton took pride in the politics of interference of the State Department, which, she confessed, relies on agents in 40 other countries working in different parts of the Web. Venezuela, Moldova, and Iran are on the list.
Coup Manual 2.0
These destabilization techniques are supported by social networking platforms in order to propagate content favorable to the interests of imperialism and its allies. The idea is simple: Create opinion templates and make them sustainable enough so that a collective, however minoritarian, can be organized around an idea. “Rebel thresholds” are generated, which are connections of nodes to share messages and political intents which have the capacity to mobilize and make impact via the net.
The famous Trending Topics of Twitter correspond to this mechanism. Messages raise awareness in a social sector, with a view to mobilizing them and making them present in social networks. As soon as they reach the “rebel thresholds”, they are organized in virtual communities, sectorized groups, associations of various types which project a riotous activism that has no support in real politics. Thus, it is no coincidence that the message was uniformly disguised in euphemisms, such as the reference to the president as “Esteban”. This motto served to identify opposition groups on the social network.
To that end, they exalt the most violent members of their gang and develop campaigns to create tensions and polarize political discussion on the Internet. Success is guaranteed by the support of the media, who serve as publicists to the virtual “dissident” groups.
In a pre-election year such as this one, we must be aware of how the adversary moves, how they come together, and how they destabilize. The ideological battle has come to the ‘net. And even in this scenario, we will win out. And what will rest in peace is Capitalism.
There isn’t a whole lot that I can add to this, other than that it’s well worth keeping this in mind the next time you see a “news” story to the effect that Hugo Chávez is dying (he isn’t), or that the opposition will win the next election (they won’t). Or just the next time you’re on the tweeter, and you suddenly see flocks of “Venezuelan” birds (who are really tweeting, for the most part, from the US or Colombia) flying out en masse to take a shit on Chavecito’s head, and missing, as usual. Rumormongering is the oldest dirty trick in the book, and even in this fast-paced cyber-age, it’s still in heavy rotation. Happily, the same technology that the enemy uses to generate the Big Lie, can be used to counteract it; see the coup of ’02, when television was used to spread the putschist message…and, less than 48 hours later, to get the truth out that the coup was over, and that Chavecito was on his way back. Then, it was TV; now, it will be Twitter, Google, Facebook…and of course, this humble blog right here.