Saturday,17 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1405, ( 9 - 15 August 2018)
Saturday,17 November, 2018
Issue 1405, ( 9 - 15 August 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Fake news

Ahmed Morsy reports on attempts to curb misinformation

Fake news
Fake news

Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek this week referred 28 defendants charged with spreading rumours on social media platforms to the Supreme State Security Criminal Court. Prosecutors claim the defendants attempted to spread chaos by causing confusion among citizens and destabilising security and stability.

Investigations, say prosecutors, revealed the defendants deliberately spread false news in an attempt to inflame public opinion, sent misinformation to embassies and consulates about human rights conditions in Egypt, acted to negatively affect the presidential elections and the national economy, undermine the morale of the army and portray Egypt as a failed state.

During a televised speech at a military graduation ceremony on the anniversary of the 23 July Revolution President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi warned of the dangers of spreading rumours: “We have faced 21,000 rumours over just three months. They all aimed to create chaos and shake the country’s stability by confusing public opinion and spreading frustration,” he said.

“The real threat we experience in our country and region is blowing up the countries from within through spreading rumours and terrorist attacks as well as losing hope and feelings of frustration. The destruction of our country will happen from within,” the president said.

Al-Sisi urged the public to resist “plots aimed at inciting people to destroy their homeland”.

MPs have also voiced concern about the phenomenon.

MP Mohamed Emara said last week’s Youth Conference, held under the patronage of Al-Sisi, had offered opportunity to scotch many rumours and the president’s answers to questions during the conference conveyed a direct message to the public that the country was on the right track.

Among recent rumours to proliferate on social media are claims that additives are being put in bread to curb population increase and that carcinogenic rice and plastic eggs are being sold on the market.

MP Mohamed Al-Masoud argues security and media experts should establish mechanisms to harmful rumours.

In recent weeks advertisements have appeared on TV channels warning against stories circulating on social media. An ad broadcast on state-owned Nile News claimed to have identified “eight false rumours in 10 days” and concluded by saying “social media is a platform of lies.”

Privately-owned Extra News channel ran an advert advising its viewers not to “believe everything you see on social media... get news from well-trusted sources and check news before you share it”.

An observatory should be established to quickly deal with rumours, MP and head of the Media Production City Osama Heikal said in an interview on Extra News channel.

“Please use your judgement when reading on social media platforms because they are an open arena for lies...You should search for the origin of what you read and see on social media,” said Heikal.

The Cabinet Information Centre has allocated a telephone number and an e-mail — 02 2792 7407 and rumors@idsc.net.eg — to enable citizens to report misinformation.

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