¡Ojo con las noticias! Su enfoque está pensado muchas veces para afectar emocionalmente....

Por: Angélica Ortiz

Los medios de comunicación (y los noticieros, específicamente) tienen cada vez más desafíos para llamar la atención del público. Es por esta razón que, en ocasiones, alteran un acontecimiento, lo sacan de contexto o brindan un enfoque deliberado para, intencionalmente, conectar emocionalmente con un grupo selecto de personas. Esta práctica se conoce como posverdad.

En 2018, los medios de todo el mundo esparcían una noticia impactante: el #TidePod Challenge. Esta tendencia nació en Estados Unidos y parecía algo increíble: a través de redes sociales, miles de adolescentes se retaban unos a otros a consumir #TidePod (unas cápsulas de detergente de colores). Obviamente, las repercusiones de tal acto eran gravísimas y ¡alguien tenia que crear consciencia y prevenir a los jóvenes! ¿Cierto?

La posverdad utiliza a su favor un estereotipo, una correlación ilusoria o la disonancia cognitiva para darle fuerza a su mensaje. En este caso en particular, se utilizaron dos sesgos para difundir la noticia:

  • Los adolescentes hacen cualquier tontería para ganar fama (estereotipo).
  • Las redes sociales son inherentemente peligrosas (correlación ilusoria).
Las redes sociales estaban poniendo en peligro a estos jóvenes… era momento de intervenir! Ehh… en realidad, no.

El Origen del Tidepod Challenge

#Tidepod, una tendencia viral que empezó en 2018.

Toda esta locura empezó en 2018 con unos pocos tuits virales donde los usuarios expresaban (en broma) lo delicioso que sería comerse un #TidePod. Uno de los tweets más famosos fue el de una usuario pidiéndole a la marca Gushers (una compañía de dulces) que creara un dulce con la forma de la cápsula.

Sin embargo, la idea de consumir estas pequeñas y llamativas cápsulas no era una noticia nueva, ya que llevaba mencionándose desde el 2015.

Entonces… ¿por qué la noticia tuvo eco en los medios?, ¿qué tan grande era el problema en realidad?

Según la Asociación Americana de control de venenos, en las dos primeras semanas del 2018 habían 39 casos de llamadas al 911 por personas que buscaban asistencia médica por haber consumido un Tidepod. Luego, en la semana del 14 al 21 de enero, esta cifra se incrementó a 47. Con un gran total de 86 casos en todo el mes.

Esta cifra puede sonar impactante pero es importante ponerla en contexto: solamente en el 2018, la cantidad de llamadas por la ingesta de grandes cantidades de vitaminas fue 900 veces mayor que las llamadas por el consumo de Tidepod.

Cabe recalar que los casos de llamadas al 911 y la cantidad de videos subidos a las redes sociales aumentaron desde el 14 de enero. La gran pregunta es: ¿qué pasó el 14 de enero?

Del 10 al 14 de enero, los principales medios de noticias comenzaron a hablar del tema. Noticieros locales, CNN, The New York Times, etc. Esto desató que, una tendencia que estaba en declive, creciera 8 veces en el interés del público. Lo que se conocía como un «meme» de internet se convirtió en un «challenge» real, visto por todos los niños del país.

Esto se puede observar claramente en la cantidad de búsquedas registradas por Google Trends. El 10 de enero la búsquedas del tema habían llegado a su punto más bajo con solamente 8 búsquedas diarias. Pero inmediatamente la tendencia creció exponencialmente en cuestión de días al punto en que, una semana después, tenía 100 búsquedas por día.

Métricas de búsqueda #Tidepod
Crecimiento del interés popular, #TidePod

La peor parte es que no solamente el interés popular sobre el tema creció, también creció la cantidad de videos de adolescentes realizando el reto. ¿Por qué? Porque la comunidad empezó a tomar la tendencia en serio.

¿Qué hicieron mal los medios masivos?

La cobertura de los noticieros hizo que, alrededor del país, se generase un efecto «Copycat» lo que causó que la cantidad de niños participando incrementara exponencialmente. Previamente, la “tendencia” se conocia como un meme, la comunidad de internautas sabía que era un challenge fake y muy pocos realmente lo llevaban a cabo. Pero cuando los medios masivos lo abarcaron, esta línea entre broma y realidad se hizo muy difusa.

¿Cómo se puede atribuir el crecimiento solo a los medios de comunicación masiva?, ¿no compartieron el tema otros miembros de la comunidad en línea? Sí y no…

Aunque es verdad que los medios en línea tienen una influencia muy amplia en las nuevas generaciones, esta vez, ellos no fueron los causantes del revuelo. Tomemos como ejemplo el video de Pewdiepie, el youtuber más grande de la plataforma. El video titulado: Logan Paul #Tidepod memes [MEME REVIEW]nos da las claves comunicativas que evitaron esto:

  • Califica la “tendencia” como un MEME.
  • Se burla de ella y no la toma enserio siguiendo la misma línea de la comunidad.
  • Expresa un disclaimer leve para evitar cualquier confusión.
  • No le dedica más importancia de la que merecía.

Si esto no es suficiente, los datos revelan que este video no tuvo impacto en la opinión popular de la tendencia, ya que este fue publicado el 4 de enero, y como se observó en los gráficos previos, no hubo ningún incremento en la participación. Y el video tiene más de 1 millón de visitas.

#TidePod, una tendencia aplificada por los medios.

Los noticieros, en cambio, tomaron un enfoque denigrante, humillante y burlesco en contra de los adolescentes con titulares como: “No tenemos que decirte que ingerir #TidePod no es una buena idea” y amplificaron la noticia fuera de las proporciones reales. ¿Dónde están la cobertura sobre las miles de llamadas por vitaminas? ¿Quién nos advierte sobre lo peligrosa que es la Vitamina C?

Las noticias que verdaderamente son relevantes a la vez son las que menos llaman la atención. Los medios buscan lo novedoso, lo disruptivo, pero muchas veces este camino los hace olvidar la ética que debe tener un comunicador. Buscan evangelizar que “los adolescentes hacen lo que sea por un like” cuando ellos son los que cobran por click y no miden las consecuencias de lo que divulgan.

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