14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 27 April 2022 — When I got on Twitter in April 2018, I almost stopped using Facebook. I was fascinated by the rhythm of the platform, the synthesis, the stark debate held there by a group of young Cubans who were beginning target shooting with just 140 ammunition. Those Creole tweeters, in the absence of a country where they could really participate, distributed tasks in an imaginary village. They felt comfortable, because their parents did not read them. There they would not be told to keep quiet or to “speak softly.”
Cuban president Díaz-Canel joined four months later and they began to consider how to spoil the party. The newly enthroned bureaucrat also had the gift of talking to animals, like his Venezuelan compadre*. But unlike the other, this juvenile was not whispered to by the birds, but by certain opportunistic fish capable of breathing out of the water. Wikipedia describes them as paraphyletic fish, with a uniform dark gray coloration: clarias [catfish].
Iroel Sánchez had joined Twitter almost a decade earlier. Perhaps he did it to spy on one of the Cuban pioneers in using networks in a subversive way. Yoani Sánchez, however, had two years of experience and a great nautical advantage. Iroel had become a political corpse since Abel Prieto denounced him for daring to call him “not very ideological.” When his countryman Miguelito [Diaz-Canel] was seated on the throne, he felt that it was time for him to reincarnate. So, like a biblical story from Genesis, the pupil approached the dictatorial couple. Both rested on the grass of a garden in Siboney, completely naked, from a political point of view. It was time for Iroel to get his teeth into the apple.
Getting serious, there is no Cuban who is unaware of the cyberclaria phenomenon. It is an army of false profiles with the mission of defending the indefensible. The order they receive is clear: like the bosses, position hashtags, attack dissenting voices, sow states of opinion and promote bad taste. They began by assigning this task to State Security agents, although some barely knew how to write their own names. Among them, for every one who thinks (more or less), there are four who are only trained in hitting and abusing.
So they took on the task of recruiting hundreds of students from the University of Informatics Sciences (UCI). In exchange for a good phone and free navigation, some guys were willing to sell their souls even to a poor devil and assume ridiculousness as a watchword. Later they felt that it was not enough and included thousands of bots. However, officials who own “oil” phones are also forced to tweet revolutionaryly, and it is sometimes impossible to tell the difference between the network activity of a cadre and the behavior of a bot.
When the ministerial cabinet was forced to open accounts on the platform, we understood why the Ñico López (the Party’s little school) has such a bad reputation. The Minister of Education herself published a photo of the beginning of the school year where she said “welcome.” Such was the disaster that Iroel himself, chatting with Ernesto Limia and Pedro Jorge (two outstanding catfishers), recognized that they were losing the battle on social networks.
Twitter is the fifteenth social network in the world by number of users, but it works as the nervous system of our societies. Umberto Eco pointed out that some defenders of social networks even maintained that “Auschwitz would not have been possible with the Internet, because the news would have spread virally.” Even the Iron Man of real life himself, the billionaire Elon Musk, was convinced that the platform is the digital public square where vital issues for the future of humanity are debated. That is why, among other things, he has offered 44 billion dollars for it and has bought it.
Twitter, in the hands of Elon Musk, has generated oceans of ink, between apocalyptic forecasts and messianic hopes. But someone does not sleep since the president of Tesla and SpaceX has solemnly sworn that he will defeat the bots or die trying. The only good news for the cyberclarias and for the Minister of Education is that they will be able to edit all the spelling errors that escape them. Now, where is the project that Iroel wanted to bequeath to posterity? Where will he find substitutes for his catfishers if even the UCI boys have ’gone looking for volcanoes’? Who will be left to give Díaz-Canel a sad ’like’? The dictator has no one to write to him.
*Translator’s note: Nicolas Maduro has claimed that the deceased former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, speaks to him in the voice of a little bird. In this video he demonstrates the voice of Chavez-as-a-bird.
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