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May 28, 2018 | Digital Entrepreneurship

Fake News is a powerful political tool. How can parties combat it?

Fake News is a political tool.
Fake News is a political tool.

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”–Winston Churchill.

Recently, the Journal Science published a study validating this pattern — at least when it comes to the spread of misinformation on Twitter. The study analyzed millions of tweets sent between 2006 and 2017 and came to this chilling conclusion

Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information.”

This is a letter from Saudi Arabia and addressed to all the Muslims.

These are the words of Sheikh AHMED, the WATCHMAN of the Prophet MOHAMMED’s MOSQUE (PBUH).

On Friday night after reciting the HOLY QURAN, SHEIK AHMED slept and saw the HOLY Prophet(PBUH) in his dream.

The Prophet (PBUH) said to him ” Sheik Ahmed, this Friday about six thousand (6,000) people Died but none of them went to heaven.

The women do not follow what their husbands tell them anymore.

The believers who have money do not help the poor. People do not perform their pilgrimage as it has been prescribed. The Muslims do not say their prayers regularly, let alone how it is supposed to be. Sheik Ahmed, tell the Muslims that this letter comes from you. They are to produce more copies of this letter and give to other Muslims so that it can be spread and get to all the Muslims in this world.

Anyone who produces this and spreads it to other Muslims will see it indeed (Will see the REWARD). The Prophet (PBUH) will count a person to Paradise along with his children. The Muslims who receives this letter and refuses to disperse it among other Muslims will not see benediction (INSHALLAH).

Those who are indebted must write. Allah in his infinite mercies will send help to pay his debt.”

I, Sheik AHMED, if what I said is a lie, may the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) not send his divine benediction to me. Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, you must follow the religion the way Prophet (PBUH) honored it, like the divine revelation it is. Ask for forgiveness, fast every Monday.

Produce 20 copies of this letter and spread it to all Muslims. Anyone who does this until all Muslims get a copy, will INSHALLAH, see the opening of the Prophet (PBUH) success will follow. He will see the things he had never seen before. This is not a letter to be kept. It must be dispersed in quantities.

A man called Klavern, got this letter and gave it to his secretary to produce 20 copies and dispersed them. After some days, he saw more doors of opportunities opening up for him.

Another person named Abdul-Salam got it and forgot it in the drawer of his office and after a certain time he lost his job. He later remembered the letter and went and produced 20 copies which were distributed and within (5) days he got employed and is in a higher position than what he had before.

Another man called Balemanthan received it and he thought it was something useless and treated it without respect or courtesy.

He tore the letter and within nine (9) days he died.

I am appealing to anyone who comes across this letter to kindly circulate it in large volume.

THANKS. MAY ALLAH BLESS YOU.”.

This message sounds quite current. It has the same format as those seen on Facebook and in WhatsApp groups.

Unfortunately, this was a message I received somewhere between 2000-2002. I can’t really remember from whom. It was a printed email.

I wasn’t that good in reading but was able to figure out the threats in it. I quickly picked one copy and rushed to my old lady at home. Read to her and told her we have to make 20 copies. She quickly checked her “abosuo” but the money wasn’t enough, we could only make 8 copies. She had only 8 pesewas.

I said no problem Mom, that is what we have and God knows it.

I rushed to Modern Information Solution, at Kwabena GNTC Center. Operated by Solar, and made the copies.

Before I could share with 4 people I realized almost every Muslim in Wamfie Zongo has had a copy already. There was no one to be given again.

It’s understandable, everyone needs heaven. So lots of people made copies.

As usual, I told myself again. God knows I’ve done my best.

Now, with heaven well secured!!! Life went on normal.

The Great Disappointment
Fast forward to somewhere 2013, At Aboabo Post Office, on my way to KNUST, I remembered that incident.

I said to myself.”Lemme check if I can find that Message on Google”.

I pulled out my Sony Xperia that Cassidy gave me, googled it and Kaddament!! EUREKA!!!! I found that same email!

After reading around it, My mood changed instantly!!!

Damnnn!! That was fake heaven!!
It’s a complete hoax. It’s a false story! I’v been disappointed. Big time!

Why fake?
That email has been debunked completely by one scholar, Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz.

Baz (born November 21, 1910 – May 13, 1999), according to Sheikh Wikipedia , was a Saudi Arabian Islamic scholar and a leading proponent of the Salafi form of Islam. He was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999. Oh yes!! He died in 1999. That means that hoax goes beyond 1999. And it only got to Wamfie around 2002.

It’s understandable; the internet wasn’t that popular then.

In the rebuttal, Sheik Baz said

“I asked one of the relatives of Shaykh Ahmad to whom this lie is attributed about this letter, and he told me that it is falsely attributed to Shaykh Ahmad, and he never said this at all. The Shaykh Ahmad mentioned here died a while ago. Even if we assume that this Shaykh Ahmad or someone greater than him claimed to have seen the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in a dream or whilst awake, and he gave him this advice, we would know for certain that he was lying, or that the one who said that to him was the Shaytaan”

In fact, Baz said in his reply to the message that:

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan also wrote an article about this letter, warning against it, which was published in al-Da’wah magazine, issue no. 1082, in which he said:

“This fabricated letter is old. It appeared in Egypt more than eighty years ago, and the scholars refuted it and ruled it to be false, and they pointed out the lies and falsehoods it contains. One of the scholars was Shaykh Muhammad Rasheed Rida, who said in his refutation of this letter:

We answered this question in 1322 AH, and we remember that we have seen something like this letter many times from when we were learning how to read and write until now. All of them are attributed to a man called Shaykh Ahmad, the Watchman of the Prophet’s Tomb. The letter is definitely false, and no one who has had the faintest whiff of knowledge and religion would dispute that. Rather it is only the simple-minded among the illiterate masses who believe it."

Sorry to myself, my Mom, my Zongo Community… We all believed it!

A typical case of “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”– Hosea 4:6

Then he refuted it at length, refuting each fabrication contained in the letter saying.

“Moreover this letter has been warmly accepted by some of the ignorant, and they started to print it and distribute it, because they were influenced by the promises and warnings contained therein, because this immoral person who composed it said that whoever makes x number of copies and distributes it will get what he wants, and if he is a sinner Allah will forgive him, and if he is employed he will be promoted, and if he is in debt his debt will be paid off, and whoever disbelieves it will be humiliated and such and such bad consequences will come to him. When some of the ignorant read this, they are affected by it and they go ahead and distribute it out of fear and greed.”

So in short, it was over 80 years hoax that I was ignorantly rushing to print in 2002 in favor of “Cheap Heaven”. For myself and my Beloved mom.

That was my first encounter with Hoax or Fake News. I knew absolutely nothing about the internet then . A year or so after I started computer classes at same Modern Information Solution I did the copies. It was 2 weeks introduction to Notepad. And it cost 8,000 cedis[old currency]. My mom footed it. She later gave me 12,000 to attend the next course (“Introduction to Microsoft word”). Unfortunately, I spent the money and never attended…Sorry, mom. I never knew what I was doing.

May God forgive me!
In 2002, the medium for sharing was via photocopying, walking from house to house [or from person to person]. At least in Wamfie.

There was no whatsapp, skype was launched a year later [August 2003], Gmail was not launched yet [was launched April 1, 2004]. Probably, the only popular email system was yahoo. Yahoo mail started in 1997 but not much people had internet to share it via mail. Google was just 4 years old [September 4, 1998, Menlo Park, California, United]. So didn’t have much to tell. Mark zuckerberg was still waiting for his admission letter to enter Harvard. So we are guaranteed Facebook was not born too.

The world has change a lot
2.19 billion Monthly active Facebook users [1st Quarter Report, 2018. source: Statista.com]. Almost half of the world is now connected to the internet. And 70% of the world youth who would have otherwise photocopy and walk from house to house like me, are now online [ITU Facts & Figures, 2017]

The six degrees of separation
“Everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people [The 6 Degrees of Separation]. Thus Between us and everybody else on this planet. The president of the United States. A volunteer in zanzibar. A nursery teacher in PraprabaabiDa, Fill in the names, is just 6 links away”.

Source: – John Guare, Six Degrees of Separation (1990)

In other words, if you know Mr A who knows Mr B who knows Mr C who knows Mr D who knows Mr E who knows Mr F then your message will definitely get to Mr F.

But to find the right six people is the challenge.
Eg: If you are in Wamfie Brone Krome house number M157, and want to tell Trump you want to work in his tower [Location: 725 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, USA], you only need to

  1. Tell your Assembly man ‘Kayade’ [1st Degree]
  2. Then Kayade will tell Hon DCE [2nd Degree]
  3. Then DCE will forward to Regional Minister probably [3rd Degree]
  4. Regional Minister to President [4th Degree]
  5. President to US ambassador in Ghana [5th Degree]
  6. US ambassador to Trump [6th Degree]

Depending on who you know in this chain, your degree can be shortened. But finding the right persons is the biggest challenge.

The theory definitely works. Your message will get to Trump if you get the right person in the Chain. But one thing of note: There is no guarantee you will get reply.

This is the traditional setup.
Button Degree Separation (BDS)
Facebook alone has changed the degree of separation from 6 to 3.57. That means we are ever closer to each other.

To me, the 6-Degree whatever does not apply on the internet…At all.

On the internet, I only see a [BUTTON] between me and any other person on the globe.

I call this the Button Degree Separation
A great opportunity we NEVER think of.
Honestly, maybe not the president. But lots of the ministers/CEOs/MPs are in our pocket now.

Lemme hasten to explain what I mean by “in our pocket”. [Anas is a troubling guy!]

What I mean is! We are with these big men in WhatsApp groups. The WhatsApp group is on our smartphone. Our smartphone is in our pocket. Therefore these big men are in our pocket.

Personally, I’ve tried the BDS. And it works. I’ve had direct link to big people without any middle man [or Personal Aide]. THE POWER OF THE INTERNET!

This Button Degree Separation together with IOT (Internet of Things) means lot of information will get to us very quick. We should be ready to face information overflow.

Internet of Things [IOT]
IOT is where the world is heading to.
In simple terms, it means
EVERYTHING WILL BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH EVERY OTHER THING. In other words, everything will be generating DATA.

We will communicate with our doors. [This is already happening].

We will communicate with our walls, we will communicate with our bathroom, we will communicate with the glass we use to drink water or alcohol, the cigarette we smoke, the bed we sleep on, the pillow we put our head on, the bed spread, the dress we wear will talk to us, the shoe we wear will talk to us.

The trees by the road side, animals, stones lying their lying, monkeys sitting their sittings. Birds flying their flying. The road we drive on, our hair, the shower, your brush. Roofing sheets. Our pens, our food. Basically, everything will be communicating with every other thing.

Hopefully, witches and wizards will all be seen live to make the communication more interesting.

Interesting world ahead!!! Don’t rush to die!!

NOW, HERE COMES THE CHALLENGE

  • How do we get meaningful information from this huge data?
  • Our brush should be able to tell us specific tooth paste is required
  • Our shower should be able to tell us “your body is hot. So I will poor cold water on you”. [OR If I poor cold water on you today, ur “sasabro” will come]
  • Our toilet should be able to tell us “go get kinaqueen 442 backup, your head will pain you in 3 hours’ time”
  • Food or glass of water will say, “Don’t eat me. I contain poison” [Witches will definitely loss job. They will find it very difficult to kill]

This ideal picture I’m painting, unfortunately, ICT cannot handle it. That is where ICT ends. And ICT will have to say Good bye to the world for another skill set to take over.

Well done Mr ICT. You need standing ovation
After making Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Bill Gate of Microsoft, Larry Page of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Ma damn rich, you have no solution to this wonderful Universe scientist want to create. The Digital Universe!!

What Skill set will help us?
You might be wondering. How can the world move on without Mr ICT. It sounds strange.

Yes! The world will move on! After all, we were once there without it.

Mr ICT is smart! It will not give up that easily.
It will be born again. This time with a new name called Data Technology(DT). With that name it will take us to the “Promised Land”- The Digital Universe. The skill set for Data Technology is Data Science.

Experts say the takeover has already started. It’s not that fast because globally, there is shortage of Data Scientists.

Currently, Data Analyst or information analyst or Database Administrators are playing that rule.

But that is just a tip of the ice beg…
A survey from Data.World says only 4% of the 332,000 computer programmers in the U.S. currently have the skill set required for data science.

If this is America, then God save Ghana!
So, until that skill set is sorted out, we the ordinary Citizens of the world will continue to fight the mess ICT created!- The too much Data in the world.

According to IBM, about 2.5 million Terabytes of Data is created every day by our devices (the pictures we take, the news we share, the long articles we write, videos we post on Facebook, when we sleep, when we visit the doctor, when arrested, the lies we tell our girlfriends, etc.)

Out of these abundance of data, some will definitely be fake. And we’ve already started to see that.. It’s called Fake News or Fake Data. In journalism, it can be called Yellow Journalism, or the Yellow Press

It was at Donald Trump’s first press conference as President-elect when the term “fake news” broke out of media discussions and into the mainstream. “You are fake news!” he pointed at CNN’s Jim Acosta while refusing to listen to his question.

He later twittered


We had a great News Conference at Trump Tower today. A couple of FAKE NEWS organizations were there but the people truly get what’s going on

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017

What is Fake Data or Fake News?
Fake News is just what it is….. News that is Fake or data that is fake.

The deliberate making up of news stories to fool or entertain is nothing new. But the arrival of social media has meant real and fictional stories are now presented in such a similar way that it can sometimes be difficult to tell the two apart.

A lot of us want proof that our world view is the accurate and appropriate one. That is what Fake News writers take advantage of.

Why people share fake news
1) SOURCE OF REVENUE TO COMPANIES.
Example, if you have website you can sign a deal with Google. Google has lots of things they advertise. They will place some of those items on your website as Banners. When someone clicks that banner on your website, you get paid. The more people visit your website, the more clicks you are likely to get. One way to get people (Traffic) is to share nice headlines that will compel people to click. You don’t care whether they read the article of not. All you want from them is to click Ad on your website

It’s as simple as that. That is one of the ways you can get revenue from your website. I teach digital Entrepreneurship in a Telegram Group. If you want to know more about internet marketing, you are free to join (t.me/internetbusiness)

According to a 2017 BuzzFeed article, Horner(was one of the world’s leading fake news writters) stated that a story of his about a rape festival in India helped generate over $250,000 in donations to GiveIndia, a site that helps rape victims in India

The same question (Why people share Fake News) was asked on Quora. Below are two screen shots that further explains the monitory aspect of sharing Fake News.

Screen shot 1:

5282018104645 quora1whypeoplemakefakenews

Screen shot 2:

5282018104645 quora1whypeoplemakefakenews2

2) OUT OF IGNORANCE
Don’t forget my “Cheap heaven”. I shared it out of ignorance. There are lots of people who share fakes news without knowing it’s fake.

Lots of religious fake news falls under this
Every muslim have probably head of Nasa hearing Azaan on the moon

  • NASA Finds Message From God on Mars

NASA announced today that its Curiosity Rover has found an unambiguous message from God written on tablets in a Martian cave.

According to official press release two giant stone slabs the size of small elephants was located deep inside a cavern abutting Aeolis Mons, a large mountain.

Upon one tablet is a copy of the Ten Commandments and the text of John 3:16 written in 12 languages – including English, Spanish, Chinese, Basque and Hebrew. On the other tablet is a simple message in English reading “I am real.”

According to top scientists who have studied the discovery extensively, these findings may have definitively established Christianity as the one true religion.

“This is amazing,” says Syms Covington, an Australian researcher working for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. “We went into the cave looking for water, and we found proof of God’s existence instead.

“I mean how else did those tablets get there? I can tell you one thing: there’s not a single atheist inside NASA’s control room now. What we saw was jaw-dropping.”

According to HoaxorFact.com


The source of this messages is an article published in The Daily Currant website, which is basically an online newspaper that publishes satirical stories. Although they mean to address real-world issues through satire, all their stories are purely fictional. The satirical publication is interesting though, as you can read the whole article below, it is based on NASA’s landing of Curiosity Rover last year in August 2012 and perhaps the obsession of religion among people
  • Neil Armstrong hearing Azaan and as a result converting to Islam

It goes like this:


When Neil Armstrong and co. walked on the moon, they heard sounds in a strange language they did not understand. ‘When Neil Armstrong went to Egypt, he heard the adhan, and said, “it was spacey something similar I heard while I was on the moon”. Egyptian Friend told him that, it was the sound of Azaan (call for Muslim prayer). And Neil Armstrong immediately became Muslim because of this experience.

However, on NASA’s official website, nasa.gov, they provide the audio and the transcript of the initial 1969 moon landing, and there is no mention of any of the crew members hearing these unfamiliar sounds

Additionally, before Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. stepped out of the lunar module, the Apollo 11 crew members observed a moment of silence whilst Aldrin read from the New Testament and administered Communion to himself. The Christian ceremony is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine:

I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements

The problem with such news is.. as you try to dispel it, people think you are rather ignorant.

In the case of Armstrong,
Letter from his Administrative Aide make it emphatic that the conversion is false.

In 1983, Vivian White, the administrative aide of Armstrong refuted the allegations in a letter to Phil Parshall, Director Asian Research Center International Christian Fellowship.

NEIL A. ARMSTRONG
LEBANON, OHIO 45036
July 14,1983


Mr. Phil Parshall Director Asian Research Center International Christian Fellowship 29524 Bobrich Livonia, Michigan 48152

Dear Mr. Parshall:
Mr. Armstrong has asked me to reply to your letter and to thank you for the courtesy of your inquiry.

The reports of his conversion to Islam and of hearing the voice of Adzan on the moon and elsewhere are all untrue. Several publications in Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries have published these reports without verification. We apologize for any inconvenience that this incompetent journalism may have caused you.

In his official 2005 biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, he states in his own words that the conversion rumors are false.

I have found that many organizations claim me as a member, for which I am not a member, and a lot of different families — Armstrong families and others — make connections, many of which don’t exist. So many people identify with the success of Apollo. The claim about my becoming a Muslim is just an extreme version of people inevitably telling me they know somebody whom I might know

Upon all these evidence, check what someone asked on quora.

5282018104646 whyisnasahiddingazaaninfo1

Believe it or not. Some Muslims still believe Azaan was once head on the moon.

Another typical example happened around 2011 in Ghana. Only God knows the source. It was about impending Earth Quark. Early down people left their rooms and gathered at open spaces. Seriously praying for God’s mercy!

3) AS A POLITICAL TOOL.
It’s a tool to distort democracy.
As noted by Wole Soyinka


“Fake news is permanent weaponry of power,” he said in an interview after delivering a lecture on humanities and technology Liberty at Vuka Knowledge Summit

– “The agenda behind inserting fake news is to confuse society.”

One of the world’s fake news writers was Paul Horner.

Paul Horner was an American writer, comedian and contributor to fake news websites whose stories US Intelligence Agencies, including the CIA & FBI, confirm had a significant impact on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In a November 2016 interview with The Washington Post, Horner expressed regret for the role his fake news stories played in the election and surprise at how gullible people were in treating his stories as news.

In February 2017 Horner said,


I truly regret my comment about saying that I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me. I know all I did was attack him and his supporters and got people not to vote for him. When I said that comment it was because I was confused how this evil got elected President and I thought maybe instead of hurting his campaign, maybe I had helped it. My intention was to get his supporters NOT to vote for him and I know for a fact that I accomplished that goal. The far right, a lot of the Bible thumpers and Alt-Right were going to vote for him regardless, but I know I swayed so many that were on the fence.

A few of the websites that Paul Horner owned.

  • http://www.cnn.com.de
  • http:///www.stgeorgegazette.com
  • http://www.iywib.com
  • http://www.superofficialnews.com
  • http://www.newsexaminer.net
  • http://www.nbc.com.co
  • http://www.FoxNews.com.hk
  • http://www.CBSNews.com.co
  • http://www.noodleyum.com -Currently in the works
  • http://www.abcnews.com.co

Horner is so good in Fake news that people actually believe his death is fake!

Political parties in Ghana must sit up. Especially NPP and NDC. I strongly believe Fake news will play key role in 2020 election. A typical example will be “X celebrity has endorse Y Candidate”

This is a tweet from Parkistan Defense Minister, back 2016

Israeli defense minister threatens nuclear retaliation presuming Pakistan role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too AH

— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) Dec. 23, 2016

It was based on fake news published on the website AWDnews falsely suggested that Pakistan planned to “send ground troops to Syria as part of an international coalition to fight against Islamic State“.

4) TO BRING COMPETITORS DOWN
This point has same intention as above. But it’s popular in the business world.

  • Rice from China being plastic
  • Tilapia carrying strange disease
  • 5 Star drink being demonic drink

In Ghana be skeptical about news coming from these guys

  1. www.alphalife.me
  2. livefmghana.com
  3. viralworldlist.com
  4. www.ghlinks.com.gh
  5. nkonkonsa.com
  6. ghanandwom.net
  7. www.castupdate.com
  8. kikiotolu.com
  9. networthvisa.com
  10. yen.com.gh
  11. ghpage.com
  12. konkonsagh

Don’t easily believe news from these sites. I don’t mean all news from them is false. Just be careful sharing information from any of the above.

5) JOKES TAKEN AT FACE VALUE
Humour sites such as the Onion or Daily Mash present fake news stories in order to satirise the media. Issues can arise when readers see the story out of context and share it with others.

6) LARGE-SCALE HOAXES
Deceptions that are then reported in good faith by reputable news sources. A recent example would be the story that the founder of Corona beer made everyone in his home village a millionaire in his will.

7) SLANTED REPORTING OF REAL FACTS
Selectively-chosen but truthful elements of a story put together to serve an agenda. One of the most prevalent examples of this is the PR-driven science or nutrition story, such as ‘x thing you thought was unhealthy is actually good for you’.

How serious is fake news

  • University of Washinton

Fake News is so serious that University of Washinton is teaching a course on Bullshit

the purpose is to help students think critically about data they consume

Everything about the course is here
http://callingbullshit.org/syllabus.html#Big

Learning objective:
Our learning objectives are straightforward. After taking the course, you should be able to:

Remain vigilant for bullshit contaminating your information diet.

Recognize said bullshit whenever and wherever you encounter it.

Figure out for yourself precisely why a particular bit of bullshit is bullshit.

Provide a statistician or fellow scientist with a technical explanation of why a claim is bullshit.

Provide your crystals-and-homoeopathy aunt or casually racist uncle with an accessible and persuasive explanation of why a claim is bullshit.

Taiwan

  • According to Smith, Nicola (April 6, 2017). “School kids in Taiwan Will Now Be Taught How to Identify Fake News”
  • Scientific vaccine

The appearance of fake news on websites and social media has inspired scientists to develop a “vaccine” to immunize people against the problem.

A University of Cambridge study devised psychological tools to target fact distortion.

“The idea is to provide a cognitive repertoire that helps build up resistance to misinformation, so the next time people come across it they are less susceptible.”

The study, published in the journal Global Challenges, was conducted as a disguised experiment.

  • Germany

Somewhere June 2017, German passed a law that will impose fines worth upwards of $50 million on Facebook and other social media companies that do not promptly remove “illegal content”.. This illegal content includes Fake news, child pornography and hate speech

  • United Kingdom

The UK government is to establish a new unit to counter “fake news”

Theresa May’s spokesman said the “dedicated national security communications unit” would be charged with “combating disinformation by state actors and others”.

“We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives,” he said.

A committee of MPs is currently carrying out an inquiry into the “growing phenomenon” and has demanded information from Facebook and Twitter including on Russian activity during the EU referendum.

  • European Union

The European Commission plans on tackling fake news as part of a broader effort to protect democracy.

“Fake news is a direct threat to the very foundations of our democratic society,” EU commissioner for digital economy, Mariya Gabriel said

Speaking at a conference on fake news in Brussels, Gabriel announced plans to set up an expert panel that will feed into possible legislation later on.

“European citizens need to have the skills and tools at their disposal to manage the ocean of information available online, that is our challenge,” she said.

Gabriel said people can purchase 20,000 comments for €5,000 and another €2,600 will buy up to 300,000 social media followers.

“This type of manipulation is possible because there is an offer to provide these services,” she said.

Over 100 pro-Donald Trump websites are registered in a small town in Macedonia where young adults, some only teenagers, are earning huge sums of money to spread false news. Pro-Russian websites have also made wide inroads into the Czech Republic.

The issue has created its own industry.
Ghana
A debut study by Penplusbytes www.penplusbytes.org on Fake News in Ghana has shown that the Ghanaian media landscape does not have systems, budgets or trained personnel dedicated to combat the menace of Fake News.

Penplusbytes set out to undertake the “Media Perspectives on Fake News in Ghana” study in order to understand the prevalence of the fake news problem whiles assessing the measures in place to combat this phenomenon. The study was based on the use of a structured questionnaire administered to nearly 200 media organizations in Ghana made up of print, online, media convergence and broadcast media spread through the ten (10) regions of Ghana.

  • 5% do not have programmes or columns for educating the public on fake news.
  • (81.7%) did not assign staff to deal with fake news.
  • (92%) were of the view that, putting in place regulations and laws are the best way of dealing with Fake News in Ghana.

According to the Executive Director of Penplusbytes and lead researcher, Kwami Ahiabenu II, “the issue of Fake news and misinformation is here to stay; with the likelihood of it becoming a crisis in due course.

There is little laws and regulations can do with Fake News. The same technology the caused the mess must clean it.

I pray the world will have data scientist very soon!

China
In 2017, China launched China Army Network Report Platform.

The website accepts tip-offs about people who pretend to be military personnel on social media, malicious posts about the People's Liberation Army, or leaks of potentially classified information."

But China's military site, 81.cn, says the platform takes submissions of violations including "harmful information" or "distorting the headlines" about China's military, "systemically editing original news" about the military, and reports "attacking" or "distorting and deconstructing the history" of the Communist Party.

  • Facebook is being banned for not doing enough

The world’s largest social network (Facebook) is being blamed for not doing enough.

This pushed Mark Z to publish what Facebook is doing about Fake News

Here it goes:


“A lot of you have asked what we’re doing about misinformation, so I wanted to give an update.

The bottom line is: we take misinformation seriously. Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information. We’ve been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We’ve made significant progress, but there is more work to be done.

Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not. Anyone on Facebook can report any link as false, and we use signals from those reports along with a number of others — like people sharing links to myth-busting sites such as Snopes — to understand which stories we can confidently classify as misinformation. Similar to clickbait, spam and scams, we penalize this content in News Feed so it’s much less likely to spread.

The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically. We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible. We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.

While the percentage of misinformation is relatively small, we have much more work ahead on our roadmap. Normally we wouldn’t share specifics about our work in progress, but given the importance of these issues and the amount of interest in this topic, I want to outline some of the projects we already have underway:

– Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.

– Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.

– Third party verification. There are many respected fact-checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.

– Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.

– Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.

– Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We’re looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.

– Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.

Some of these ideas will work well, and some will not. But I want you to know that we have always taken this seriously, we understand how important the issue is for our community and we are committed to getting this right.”

End of Mark Z post:
Why do people sometimes believe Fake News are truth

Buzzfeed’s Craig Silverman, who heads a team looking into the effects of fake news, explains just how easily fake news can end up being reported as true by the mainstream media.

“A fake news website might publish a hoax, then because it’s getting social attention another site might pick it up, write that story as though it’s true and may not link back to the original fake news website,” Silverman says.

“From there it’s a chain reaction until at some point a journalist at a largely credible outlet might see it and quickly write something up, because many journalists are trying to write as many stories as possible and write stories that get traffic and social attention. The incentive is towards producing more and checking less.”

Linking back to the original is very key if we want to always have reliable information. There should be a means to always link back to the original source.

How do we combat Fake News?
In this age of fake news, ‘alternative truth’ and outright lies, sorting fact from fiction has never been more important. While nobody in their right mind has ever believed what the government or any politician says, the current climate makes that even more necessary to search for the truth. Never in the recent history of our country has it been more important to check your own facts.—Jamie, blogger on techjunkie.com

Below is the answer by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and co-founder of Wikia, on Quora:

There are (at least) two problems that give rise to the “fake news” phenomenon

First is the ‘distribution’ problem – and this is something that Facebook and Twitter and others are struggling to deal with. I think progress will be made here, just as progress has been made against spam e-mail.

The second issue is the one I’m more interested in. And that’s that various problems with traditional media have given rise to a real loss of trust, and this has given rise to plausibility and gullibility. In short, when we get biased news, frequent errors, clickbait headlines, an extreme race to publish first (whether a story is confirmed or not), then the public doesn’t know who to trust or what counts as real.

To summarize Jimmy Wales view

  • The technology Giants must play a role in combating Fake News
  • Individual or Media outlet should not rush to publish news without verifying it.

A typical example of the rush is when almost every media outlet published on the issue of "I have the president in my pocket" which Kwaku Baaku has denied.

Now, who do you believe? I personally will believe Kwaku Baako.

Few other points to consider

  • People that write and share on social media, especially experts and professionals. Try adding a verifiable source. Add your name, profession and contact at the end of the post so people can easily verify. Manasseh Azure Awuni is good at this. All his articles I’ve come across ends with his name, profession. You can’t tell people to drink Lemon every morning when we don’t know who you are.
  • We the news consumers should also take note of source. Any news that has no source, we should not share it and we should not quote it anywhere.
  • For media outlets, if you have an interview, you should, to the maximum degree possible, post the audio and the transcript.
  • We need to add one more step in our copy and paste. After copying from one platform, let’s first of all paste it in google.com. Just paste everything you copied in google.com. Google will pull all websites relating to that piece of data.

Taking the Nasa hearing Azaan on moon for example.

5282018104646 neilarmstrong

We must apply little common sense here. Neil Armstrong conversion will be a World News and I will not expert blocks like bext.hoaxes.blogspot.co and saraiyaazadari.blogspot.com to be in the face page of google. Such news will definitely be carried out by the popular media like cnn.com, nytimes.com, bbc.com, Aljazeera.com, rt.com.

Occasionally those media outlets do carry fake news too but mostly they are reliable. The same way, if the news is about Ghana, check if the popular news outlets have covered it. Ghanaweb.com, myjoyonline.com, citi news, modernghana.com, etc. If there is nothing like that on such sites, then relax, don’t rush to share it.

The same way if it’s image, u can google it out on Sheikh Google.

  • Launch google [Googlecom]
  • Click on Images at the upper right

5282018104646 googlesearchbyimage1

Click that to upload the picture. Google will automatically search all things relating to that picture.

5282018104647 googlesearchbyimage2

A typical example is the image below

5282018104647 burma

Someone shared it in a whatsapp group. With inscription of how Muslims are killing Christians in Nigeria. And requesting every caring christian to pray for Christians in Nigeria. Actually this picture has being linked to almost every genocide or massacre in the world.

I saved the picture and uploaded it in Google as described above.

Below is what I came up

5282018104648 googlesearchbyimage4

5282018104648 googlesearchbyimage5

5282018104649 googlesearchbyimage6

You can see nothing about the picture is Nigeria. It’s all about Myanmar or Rohingya or Buddhist

  • Always rely on NEWS from secured website, unless you know the author automatically.

Another to make sure our source of information is genuine is to try and get it from reliable source( website). Expecially from a website that is secured. It’s not the panacea but it helps.

What is a secured website?
Check the images below

5282018104649 microsoft

5282018104650 nabco

5282018104650 facebook

5282018104650 apple

5282018104650 cnn

One thing is common to them all of them. They have PADLOCK. Some have the company name too in addition to the padlock.

Those padlocks are very important. A company pay extra money so that the padlock will show. Most fake news websites don’t pay that extra money to get the padlock. And it cost to have both the padlock and your company name showing.

If you click on the padlock, you will see the below information

5282018104651 namecheapsiteissecure

The websites below doesn’t have the padlock

5282018104651 notesecured2

5282018104651 notesecured1

5282018104652 notesecured4

5282018104652 notesecured5

If you click on that globe you will see below

5282018104652 notesecured6

Note: NEVER put your credit card details or any credentials that do not have the padlock. Never do it.

Aside the padlock, let’s always search for information from credible sources.

The usual statement “Google it out” is not enough.

  • Ask for credible source

When someone tells you “I found it on google”..That is like saying “I found it in the world”. It doesn’t make sense. Insist on the specific site and check the credibility of the website.

If it’s about food issues. Info from Food and drugs board website is credible. If it’s about global disease, Center for Disease Control, America is credible. Information on university websites have credibility too. If it’s about disease outbreak. Ghana health service website is reliable.

Consider the image below

528201861825 eggandbanana

No one knows who is speaking. Let's stop sharing messages like this and let's stop creating messages like this. If you are an expert, tell us who you are and why we should believe you.

  • Your name:
  • Your Profession
  • Your contact(Mobile or Email of Social Handle)

Let's try and add these three things to every message we write.

People interested in getting the right information with citation, and other reference should use Google Scholar and NOT Google.com

The url is scholar.google.com
Features of Google Scholar

  • Search all scholarly literature from one convenient place
  • Explore related works, citations, authors, and publications
  • Locate the complete document through your library or on the web
  • Keep up with recent developments in any area of research
  • Check who’s citing your publications, create a public author profile
  • Google is a general purpose search engine.

  • Use fact checking websites

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any specific fact checking website dedicated to Ghana. Below are global tools but I’ve used them a lot. Snopes.com specifically

FACTCHECK.ORG
As its name suggests, FactCheck.org is for fact checking. It is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. It mainly relates to political stories but covers science, social subjects and general interest subjects. It also has a useful Ask a Question section where you can do exactly that.

With a mission stated as ‘to be a consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics’, the site is a good source of facts for verification

SNOPES.COM
Snopes is run by David Mikkelson and updated regularly. It is another fact checking website that seeks to find the facts behind the fiction and has been credited with busting some dominant myths recently. The site is funded purely from advertising and is not funded by anyone else. The subjects covered are a range of the political, urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors and misinformation-busting facts.

Snopes is highly regarded by other fact checking websites as well as independent sources. It is as good a place as any to find the truth behind the story.

opensecrets.org. This nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit website run by the Center for Responsive Politics tracks how much and where candidates get their money.

Whowhatwhy: WhoWhatWhen is a database that contains information about famous people and famous events. The data can be assembled in various ways to create graphic timelines of periods in history or of the lives of individuals.

Political parties must train their communicators. No two ways about this.. Interesting times ahead. They must be trained to catch fake news and reply to it as quick as possible. It makes one look stupid when you think you have all the facts, only to be told "it's fake". At the national level, It won't be bad if an office is setup just to deal with Fake News.

For companies and NGOs, the marketing team should be trained to be able to defend the company online.- Reputation Management.

If Fake News affected Brixit, US Election then God save a country where just about $0% of its basic school pupils can read and understand (UNICEF,2018)

Content was Curated
References

  • Wikipedia
  • Quora
  • www.unicef.org
  • Business Insider

Needless to say,

I'm Kaunda. I just love the internet.

I teach Digital Entrerpeneuship Training in a Telegram Group. It's absolutely free. You can join from here

You can also find out from my personal website [webextremist.com]

Or get in touch directly[0234 80 90 10]


Thanks for taking the time to read such a long. I will love to hear your Comment, Criticism, Suggestion or Question at the comment section. Have a nice day:)

Disclaimer: Kayade is not the assembly man of Brone Krome. The assemblyman is called Mr Thomas. Kayade I'm told is "Self aclaimed asambly man and only kids praise him"

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