Even a unifying force such as the national football team can be used to sow divisions in Croatian society, Source: Depositphotos

Anything can be political: Croatian instances of disinformation

Anything can be political: Croatian instances of disinformation

The Balkan country's concerns, fears and trepidations show how propaganda can be tailor-made to cause maximum impact

Wherever you go, politics will be disputed in some shape or form – demonized, praised or shrugged off, we need to face the fact that political discourse is present all around us. However, that doesn't mean that we should face and accept absolutely everything political at face value.

Fake news is synonymous with the Internet and is prevalent in every part of the world with access to it. As such, Croatia, one of the EU member states, is not immune to political disinformation. Let’s have a look at what makes the local disinformation campaigns particular.

Disinfo exploits various cleavages in Croatian society

It could be said that the state of our political discourse is kind of „rocky“, since Croatia is a relatively young country, having been independent since 1991 and having previously been part of Socialist-regime Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia is no more, but the contemporary Croatian political discourse has been affected by that recent history. The elderly generations who had lived through most of Yugoslavia look at Socialism and Communism somewhat fondly in a bid to recreate that past. Compare this to younger generations who are looking for a brighter future within a quickly changing world while hoping it will be peaceful.

Given these differences between the generations and their interests in mind, the way Internet content is presented to separate individuals depends on what they are specifically looking for to satisfy emotionally and intellectually while browsing (social media, reading online articles and discussions, watching news reports, etc.). That also reflects on the types of disinformation they will be exposed to.

Examples of disinformation aimed at Croatians

One of the most common examples of misleading, but emotionally triggering narratives, concerns the relationship between Serbs and Croats. There was, for instance, a video where Aleksandar Stanković (a Serbian-Croatian TV host) from the popular TV show Nedjeljom u 2 (Sundays at 2) talked about Luka Modrić and the Croatian football team. The original positive speech about the national team was shortened and altered to a clip where it seems that Stankovic is actually bashing Luka Modrić and the other footballers.

That wasn't taken lightly by Croats, and there were multiple comments expressing disagreement, distaste and disbelief at the radio host's manipulated comments. It’s a good showcase of how any part of life can be taken to provoke emotional and, as a consequence, political emotions and divisions in society.

Another common example is taking a politician's speech out of context or clipping it to the point of conveying a different meaning than the meaning of the original source. Politicians whose words were regularly altered or taken out of context were ex-resident Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and the current President Zoran Milanović.

The reality is that with the Internet so present and intertwined in our lives, the actors producing and distributing disinformation have all the tools to analyze and harness the deep-seated divisions that lie (sometimes hidden) in any society.

This article is part of Read Twice – an EU-funded project, coordinated by Euro Advance Association that targets young people and aims to counter disinformation and fake news by enhancing their skills to assess critically information, identify vicious and harmful media content and distinguish between facts and opinions, thus improving their media literacy competences.

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union nor of TheMayor.EU.



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