MINSK, 15 January (BelTA) – Scathing comments made by opinion leaders can trigger a stronger reaction than the event itself, Oleg Makarov, the director of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research (BISR), said as he took part in the meeting of the Expert Community project “Deepfakes: New Challenge to Information Security” in the BelTA press center on 15 January.
He weighed in on the second wave social effect which has to do with people's reaction to the comments on some facts or events made by the so-called opinion leaders: government officials, bloggers, etc. “The social reaction is largely determined by their opinions about a particular event. If their commentary is inadequately harsh, rapid and vigorous, it will trigger a more significant social response than the event itself,” the BISR director said.
He believes that an information consumer needs someone to constantly explain to them the essence of the current events. They do not try to grasp what is going on themselves: instead, they form their opinions based on what others think. “At first, there appear some news, then they are followed by comments made by analysts and politicians. In turn, such comments trigger a social response,” explained the expert. He remarked that the news, including fake and deepfake information, creates an uproar in society not on its own but through someone's opinions. “These days, the creator of some disturbing content is separated from those who detonate this information bomb. Fake information spreads quickly and we need some thoughtful comments to fight it back just as rapidly,” added the analyst. If the experts choose to remain silent about some events, the society turn to fake news as their only available option.
The BISR director pointed out that Belarusians generally tend to react to news in a sensible and calm manner. “They have a sense of this wise pause that allows them to sit back and see whether other sources confirm this or that fact instead of rushing to a conclusion. Such discretion makes Belarusians somewhat immune to fake news,” he concluded.