On September 23 the Center for Public Diplomacy – in compliance with all quarantine security measures – held the final regional training seminar «Disinformation as an instrument of hybrid warfare: aspects of its spread and possibilities to counter propaganda» for representatives of local authorities, public sector and mass media.
The seminar was opened by Mr. Valdemaras SARAPINAS, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to Ukraine who delivered welcoming remarks for the participants. Mr. Ambassador has mentioned that while working in Ukraine he has noticed how Russian mass media are trying to convince the wide audiences that a civil war is going on in the Donbas, and Russia’s authorities are only observing the situation distantly and kindly. The Kremlin propagandists believe that a lie said 1000 times turns into the truth. That’s why it is necessary to pay serious attention to the question of countering the disinformation and combine efforts in strengthening the ability to resist propaganda.
«For me as for the mayor it’s actually very important that the city residents and people living in the territory of our city would understand that information is not only the means of data transmission but also the means of impact on people living in this territory», – so the Mayor of Mykolayiv Mr. Oleksandr SENKEVYCH started his speech at the event. He has stated that as a result of «brain-washing», blocking the information channels of Ukraine, people’s consciousness is changing, and in fact the war continues in the territory of the whole of our country. «Unfortunately, not all people can analyze the information, some of them just consume this information which results in the fact that we need to work on this as well. Besides the military equipment, besides the army, besides the economy, we need to work on people’s «brains» and on teaching people how to use information as information is the weapon».
Dr. Ignas KALPOKAS, Associate Professor of Public Communication at Vytautas Magnus University and Assistant Professor of International Relations and Development at LCC International University, told about the psycho-emotional characteristics of propaganda audiences. In his words, belief in messages happens already before thinking, so it is not a matter of rational convincing people that they are wrong. «Really when we want to counter propaganda, we are dealing not only with social things but we are also dealing with human biology, with the human brain».
«So we think a lot about this dichotomy between automatic and rational thinking, that we need to encourage rational thinking and so on, but again in the environment where there is a lot of information automatic thinking is what people typically use». That is especially because people get satisfaction following claims that correspond to their opinions. Over time they get addicted to this satisfaction. «So, we get addicted to having our opinions confirmed, and we actively seek politicians or propagandists who can give us this satisfaction».
According to Dr. KALPOKAS, it’s necessary to invest time and efforts in automatic thinking. As there was a lot of efforts invested in building some automatic associations from the propaganda side, the only thing we can do is to invest efforts to build positive counter-associations that will emerge automatically within the population.
You’ll find the key points of speeches of the rest of our experts in our further posts.
The training seminar was held in cooperation with the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, the Mykolayiv City Council, in partnership with the Educational Platform CEGLA and funded under the Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Užsienio reikalų ministerija.