Low trust in news globally and attacks on journalists
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
In this edition, we look at data from Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2022 that indicates that trust in news has fallen in almost half the countries that were surveyed for the report. Data from the report also reveals that global concerns about false and misleading information remain stable this year.
While trust in media and news continues to fall, media persons also continue to be targeted and attacked globally. This week we look at the attack on Saleh Attia, a Tunisian journalist who has been prosecuted by the military judiciary for commenting on the army.
Finally, research by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has found that entities affiliated with al-Shabaab and Islamic State are posing as “independent news outlets” on Facebook to spread their hateful ideologies, grow audiences and broadcast their messaging in East Africa, with Kenya as their focus.
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The latest top stories
Meet the fact-checkers decoding Sri Lanka’s meltdown (Rest of World)
Watchdog is a research collective based in Colombo that uses fact-checking and open source intelligence (OSINT) methods to investigate Sri Lanka’s ongoing crisis. Watchdog’s protest tracker has emerged as the most comprehensive online archive of the historic events unfolding in Sri Lanka. From protests to power cuts, Watchdog uses open source research to investigate Sri Lanka’s ongoing political and economic crisis.
Food shortages continue, fuel queues have grown longer, the government still doesn’t have a recovery plan — and the Watchdog team continues to work through power cuts to bring transparency to the maze of Sri Lankan bureaucracy.
Tunisia detains journalist for commenting on army (Middle East Monitor)
The military judiciary has detained and opened an investigation against a Tunisian journalist after he made statements to an Arab TV channel about the Tunisian army ahead of a general strike led by the Tunisian labor union (UGTT).
Saleh Attia is not the first Tunisian journalist to be prosecuted by the military judiciary. In April, a TV journalist was sentenced to four months in prison for "insulting" the head of state after appearing on a TV programme. He appealed the judgment and was released pending the final decision.
In recent years, local and international non-governmental organisations have denounced the prosecutions against civilians before the military judiciary, noting that their frequency has increased since the Tunisian president seized full powers on 25 July.
Research by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has found that entities affiliated with al-Shabaab and Islamic State are posing as “independent news outlets” on Facebook to spread their hateful ideologies, grow audiences and broadcast their messaging in East Africa, with Kenya as their focus. The news outlets use a coordinated distribution network of Somali, Swahili and Arabic language Facebook profiles and pages to seed its content on the platform.
“Any kind of terrorist activity on a platform is a problem and points to larger issues within its systems. If terrorist activity is able to get around moderation systems that have been put in place, whether manual or automated, think about how much hate content can exist on the platform in those languages” — Moustafa Ayad, Executive Director for Africa, the Middle East, and Asia at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue
Proportion of Latin Americans who avoid the news increases, says Reuters Institute survey (LatAm Journalism Review)
The increase in the number of people who avoid journalistic content is a global trend and it’s even more pronounced in Latin American countries. This is what the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2022, published this Wed., June 15, shows.
"The data suggest some frustration with politics and sort of a polarization in a number of countries, especially Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. That's often tied up with these issues of low trust, and people see things on the news that they don't agree with, because they feel very strongly on one side or on the other side of these arguments." — Digital News Report author Nic Newman
Impulsionados por bolsonaristas, vídeos com ataques às urnas passam de 5 milhões de visualizações no TikTok (Aos Fatos)
Driven by supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), disinformation videos about electronic voting machines or attacks on the electoral system gather more than 5.3 million views on TikTok. The volume represents 33% of the audience of the most popular content regarding the themes on the platform, according to a sample analyzed by Radar Aos Fatos.
TikTok is among the platforms that have partnered with the TSE to combat electoral disinformation in Brazil in 2022. In the community guidelines, the app states that it does not allow "content that misleads community members about elections or other civic processes" and which removes videos that "damage public trust in civic institutions and processes, such as governments, elections and scientific bodies." Contacted by the report, the company said it "prohibits electoral disinformation and works with independent fact-checking organizations that help evaluate content so that violations of its community guidelines can be removed as soon as they are identified."
What’s new at Meedan
Meedan worked with AFP’s fact-checking unit to build infrastructure across multiple social media platforms to monitor and debunk false and misleading claims surrounding the 2022 French elections.
The global news service used Meedan’s Check software to bring in claims from Facebook Messenger, Twitter and WhatsApp, debunk them, and then send them back out to social media users. In total, the project brought in more than 2,000 conversations between social media users and AFP journalists, and led to more than 900 fact-checks published to audiences.