Fake news watch: Phony facts and bogus reports

Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges after eight years on death row, now has to deal with “fake” images on social media purporting to show her leaving Pakistan. (AP)
Updated 13 November 2018
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Fake news watch: Phony facts and bogus reports

  • Arab News presents a weekly roundup of bogus reports and phoney facts in the mainstream and social media

LONDON: Here we present a weekly roundup of bogus reports and phony facts in the mainstream and social media.

Bogus images of Christian woman leaving Pakistan
Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges after eight years on death row, now has to deal with “fake” images on social media purporting to show her leaving Pakistan, AP reported.
Although it was unclear who was behind the images, which prompted death threats to a lawmaker shown in one photograph, it was likely they were intended to whip up radical religious fervor over Bibi’s case.
Some have demanded that Bibi be publicly executed, and have filed a petition to repeal her Supreme Court acquittal. The government says Bibi remains in Pakistan, at a secret location for her own protection, until the review process is finished.
Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry slammed the “fake” postings on Monday, one of which claims to show Bibi meeting Pope Francis, AP reported. The photo is actually of Bibi’s daughter from two years ago. Bibi and her family have always maintained her innocence.
“People can even be killed because of such fake postings,” Chaudhry said. The pictures were widely circulated on social media in Pakistan and shared on several local journalists’ groups, even a police and a media group.
“We are trying to seek cooperation from Twitter and Facebook against such fake news,” Chaudhry added.

No defense for Iraq minister claims
Iraq’s National Coalition, led by Ayad Allawi, has denied the latter’s nomination for the post of minister of defense.
The coalition statement said some media outlets have recently reported statements or “leaks” claiming that Allawi has nominated himself for the position.
The office added that “the National Coalition, while calling on the media to investigate the accuracy of the news … categorically denies the validity of those rumors, and confirms that Allawi did not run for office at all, but nominated several names for this position.”

A lesson on fake news in Egypt
Egypt’s Education Minister Tarek Shawki has denied a rumor spread on social media claiming that free education will be canceled in government schools and universities.
Shawki had previously said that the issue of free education should not be left without discussion and requires reconsidering.
The minister’s remarks came during a meeting of a House of Representatives committee, sparking a storm of controversy and speculation that the minister wants to abolish free education, a right protected by Egypt’s constitution.
In an interview with Egyptian media outlets, Shawki said those who misquoted him and were behind spreading the rumor should be punished.


Nicaragua police raid opposition paper, end rights groups’ permits

View of damages at the office of Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who rents at the building of the NGO Center of Investigation on Communication (CINCO) in Managua on December 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Nicaragua police raid opposition paper, end rights groups’ permits

  • Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents

MANAGUA: Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of an opposition daily and then stripped human rights and activist groups’ permission to operate, those targeted said Saturday.
Nine police officers armed with rifles entered the offices late Friday and started pushing people, beating others and making fun of reporters after journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro challenged them to take on his media outlet without a search warrant in his online daily Confidencial and news broadcasts Esta Semana and Esta Noche, he said.
What you are doing “is just de facto. If you have the order, I ask you to show it,” Chamorro said from the street to the agent who barred him and other colleagues from entering the offices.
“Police did not show any order at all... so this is an armed assault on private property, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and free enterprise,” he later told reporters.
Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents.
Chamorro went to the police headquarters to demand the return of equipment, noting that the newspaper and television programs “are private companies attached to the commercial register, and have nothing to do with organizations that are being persecuted.”
The offices of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and four other NGOs in Managua were also occupied, and lawmakers canceled their permits to operate.
“Brutal display of brute force against journalists from @confidencial_ni in Nicaragua... this regime... aims to demolish critical voices in its country,” Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco said on Twitter.
Leftist President Daniel Ortega first came to power in 1979 as a leader of the leftist Sandinista rebels that toppled the US-backed Somoza family dictatorship. After leaving office in 1990 he returned to power in 2007.