Moldova riots: beware of misinformation on Twitter
Issued on: Modified:
The media, particularly in the US, have stressed the innovative use Web-based platforms such as Twitter and Facebook in the build-up to the protests gripping Moldova. However, the Internet is also being used by both camps to spread false rumours and fabricate conspiracy theories. Here is a startling example of possible misinformation on Twitter. Read more...
The media, particularly in the US, have stressed the innovative use of Web-based platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in the build-up to the protests gripping Moldova. However, the Internet is also being used by both camps to spread false rumours and fabricate conspiracy theories. Here is a startling example of possible misinformation on Twitter.
A Web user raised our attention to this photo. It was published on a blog, with the mention “communist conspiracy”, as well as on several Moldovan media.
The image has been used as proof that the communists in power manipulated the demonstrators in order to lure the protest movement into violence. The men on the roof of the building are described as bogus protesters, escorted by a policeman (with a cap). The men are supposedly hoisting a flag of the European Union on top of the Moldovan parliament. According to this theory, the move is a communist ploy to excite the crowd and then blame the opposition for the ensuing riots.
The conspiracy theory is currently spreading on the Net, particularly via Twitter. Web users add their own false information, including the claim that the Romanian flag is being hoisted above that of the EU. This is wrong. The flag in the picture is Moldova’s, even though the two are very similar. The assertion is particularly sensitive given the present context. Indeed, Moldova’s communist president has accused neighbouring Romania of stirring up the riots. Hence, Web users are here implying that the president put the Romanian flags up so that he could then point the finger at Bucharest.
In the end, none of this appears to be correct. One of the leaders of the protest, Oleg Brega, whom we already spoke to yesterday, gave us his view of what really happened. He says the men on the picture are real protesters. The police allegedly allowed them to hoist the EU flag in the hope that this might calm the crowd and quell the riots. This would explain why the policeman with the cap isn’t trying to hide. For Oleg, the photo just shows that, at the time, the authorities had “capitulated”.
If you have any information either supporting or contradicting the theory that the protesters were manipulated please send us your comment.