Top journalist Carlos Chamorro flees Nicaragua, cites raids

Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who rents an office at the building of the NGO Center of Investigation on Communication (CINCO), speaks to the press to denounce damages during a police raid in Managua on December 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Top journalist Carlos Chamorro flees Nicaragua, cites raids

  • Thousands have fled the country in self-imposed exile, including more than 50 journalists, Chamorro says

MEXICO CITY: More than a month after Nicaraguan police raided and occupied his news outlets’ offices, prominent journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro has fled to Costa Rica.
Chamorro announced in a video posted Monday on Facebook that he made “the painful decision to go into exile to ensure my freedom and physical safety, and above all to carry on independent journalism from Costa Rica.”
Chamorro runs the online news site Confidencial as well as the television programs “Tonight” and “This Week.” In mid-December, police swept into their offices and carried away documents, computers and other equipment.
When Chamorro and members of his staff went to the police to demand documentation justifying the raid they were violently pushed away by riot police.
President Daniel Ortega’s government has moved in recent weeks against remaining independent voices of dissent in the media and non-governmental organizations.
At least 325 people have been killed in the suppression of anti-government protests that began last April.
Thousands have fled the country in self-imposed exile, including more than 50 journalists, Chamorro says. In April, journalist Angel Gahona was killed while reporting live via Facebook on protests in the southeastern city of Bluefields.
Last Friday, the newspaper La Prensa ran a blank front page bearing only the question: “Have you imagined living without information?” The government has been holding up its supplies of newsprint and ink, forcing the paper to reduce its page count and take other steps to save resources.
In a column published on Confidencial’s website Sunday, Chamorro said he had exhausted his legal options in Nicaragua and now would have to continue doing journalism from Costa Rica. He said threats and criminalization of his work had only intensified.
Chamorro demanded the release of political prisoners, including fellow journalists Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau of 100% Noticias, who were arrested in December.
After the Sandinistas overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza, Chamorro ran their newspaper, La Barricada, for years. His mother, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was with the Sandinistas when they took power in 1979, but she ran against Ortega for the presidency and won in 1990.


Facebook targets fake news in Arabic language media

Updated 19 February 2019
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Facebook targets fake news in Arabic language media

  • Social media giant reveals plans to roll out further initiatives across the Arab world
  • “We want to empower people to decide what to read, trust and share”

LONDON: Facebook has again found itself under scrutiny amid global efforts to stamp out fake news circulating on social media sites. Nashwa Aly, Facebook’s head of public policy for the Middle East and North Africa, spoke to Arab News about the company’s new Arabic-language fact-checking service.
Q: Has the fact-checking service in Arabic already started? If so, are there any results as to how many articles are being flagged as false?
A: The third-party fact-checking in Arabic rolls out as of this month, so still no results to share yet. We recognize the implications of false news on Facebook and we are committed to doing a better job to fight it. More than 181 million people use Facebook every month across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), so this is a responsibility that we take very seriously, and we’re excited to see through the this launch in partnership with AFP MENA. 
How many people will be working on it and what kind of volume of false stories do you expect to identify daily?
It varies by country, but AFP draws on the resources of multiple local bureaus, as well as centralized Arabic-speaking fact-checkers, to fact-check content.
Why did Facebook choose to enter into this initiative? Is the fake news problem any worse in Arabic compared with other languages? Are there any specific issues in challenging this problem in Arabic compared with other languages?
This expansion with AFP, with whom we already have successful fact-checking partnerships across the Latin American and Asia Pacific regions, is a step forward in our efforts to combat Arabic-language misinformation, and we will continue to take steps to expand our efforts globally this year. This initiative is particularly important across MENA, given that misinformation is a major concern in the region.
The present challenges do not necessarily stem from the Arabic language. However, there are some challenges that can arise, such as how to treat opinion and satire. We strongly believe that people should be able to debate different ideas, even controversial ones. We also recognize that there can be a fine line between misinformation and satire or opinion. This can make it more difficult for fact-checkers to assess whether an article should be rated as “false” or left alone.
It appears from the announcement that Facebook will not be actively removing “fake news” links identified under this initiative with AFP. Is that right, and if so, do you think the initiative goes far enough?
The way this will work is that when fact-checkers rate a story as false, we significantly reduce its distribution in News Feed — dropping future views on average by more than
80 percent. Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced, and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.
We also want to empower people to decide what to read, trust, and share. When third-party fact-checkers write articles about a news story, we show them in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. We also send people and Page Admins notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that has been determined to be false.
Finally, to give people more control, we encourage them to tell us when they see false news. Feedback from our community is one of the various signals that we use to identify potential hoaxes. 
Facebook also entered into an initiative with the UAE National Media Council to fight fake news. Is it looking to any other agreements in this field regionally, especially in Saudi Arabia?
The partnership with the UAE National Media Council and the launch of third-party fact-checking in Arabic, in partnership with AFP MENA are both key steps in our efforts against false news but are not nearly done yet. We plan to continue to take steps to expand our efforts this year both globally and regionally.