Journalists are key to fighting misinformation, says expert at AMF 2019

DUBAI, 28th March, 2019 (WAM) — Fact-checking journalists throughout the world have become a primary defence against fakery and are playing a significant role in debunking fake news on large social media platforms, said fact-checking reporter Daniel Funke at the 18th edition of the Arab Media Forum on Thursday.

Speaking on the last day of the Forum, during a session entitled ‘The Age of Fabrications’, Funke, who works for the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter Institute for Media Studies, spoke about the proliferation of misinformation in our world today and what can be done to combat it.

“We can all be fact-checkers,” Funke told the audience, which included journalists from different media organisations. “Journalism is the primary way we can fight bad information online.”

“Fake news is not a great term to describe this phenomenon,” Funke added. “It really doesn’t mean anything anymore, because it has become greatly politicised.”

Defining the three types of “information disorder”, Funke said, “The first type is misinformation, and this is the type of information that is false, but not created with the intention of causing harm. It’s not always clear why it has been shared. On the other side, there is disinformation, which does imply intent. It is demonstrably false content that is trying to achieve a goal. It could be to sway elections or to get someone to share something, or even make money on a website. The third type, is mal-information, which includes hate speech and targeted harassment. It might include elements of false information and misinformation, but is not necessarily false.”

Funke explained that within misinformation, there are also different types, such as satire and parody, which sometimes people do not understand and can mistake for real news.

“Fake news is not new, it’s been around for a very long time,” he said, as he shared an example of a hoax by a New York City tabloid in the 1880s, which had published a fake news story about aliens flying on the surface of the moon.

Held under the theme ‘Arab Media: From Now to the Future’, the region’s leading annual event for the media industry has brought together more than 3,000 prominent regional and international media leaders, scholars, writers and experts, to share their views on the current state of the Arab media and those shifts that are shaping the future of the industry.

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