Twenty-four days have passed since the first day of the revolution, and people have been living off news and media platforms all day long, even from the streets. The media is our number one source to know what is happening in different streets around Lebanon, and when the media fails to give us exact news, we turn to social media.
Unfortunately, social media is the number one platform for misleading headlines and fake news. Isn’t Facebook the platform that “endorsed” the fake news of Pope Francis supporting the US President Donald Trump in the 2016 American elections?
If there is anything disrupting the revolution in Lebanon, it is definitely the infinite news forwarded by WhatsApp, which are most likely bias and as far from reality as possible.
This is a list of fake news that not only should we not spread, but also correct others that do:
Audi Bank is one of the biggest banks in Lebanon and is involved in the lawsuit Judge Ghada Aoun filed against a former Prime Minister for illicit enrichment. This news, however, is untrue as stated in a statement the bank released.
A member of the Syndicate of Gas Stations Owners Fadi Abou Chakra stated that there is no shortage in fuel. He stressed that only 15% of gas stations closed on a certain day during the revolution due to blocked roads for a few hours, but then went back to function normally.
#4 Lebanese government ordered Lebanese and International media platforms to stop covering the revolutions
The Army Command issued a statement refuting the circulating “news” that the army has declared an Emergency Status Alert and imposed curfews. In its statement, the army encouraged Lebanese people not to get pulled by rumors, and to check its official website for such news.
#6 Government announces an internet ban/shutdown
المعلومات المتداولة عن اتخاذ قرار بقطع خدمة الإنترنت لا تمت الى الحقيقة و الواقع بصلة.
We should always check the source of an image. Google has created a tool called Google Reverse Image. It is a content-based image retrieval query technique that involves providing the CBIR system with a sample image upon which it bases its search; in terms of information retrieval. In other word, Google can fact-check for you how true any image is.
#8 MTC an Alfa extends the expiry date of credits and services till next year
All these three banks, Blom Bank, Bob Bank, and Fransabank, announced in a statement that even though the hours were reduced to 2:30 exceptionally for this period of revolution, salary reduction is not true as the salary cannot be messed with according to employment contracts directly linked to Social Security.
#10 Lebanese pound has dropped dramatically against the dollar, reporting exchange rates of 2,000 LBP
The news of politicians fleeing the country after the uprising events has been the talk of the town for weeks, mostly a video of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil on a plane.
Sources have confirmed to LBCI that Minister Bassil is still in Lebanon and that the photo goes back from his trip to Egypt for the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
#12 Threating messages from ISF accusing social media users of the crime of disrespecting the President
يتم ارسال رسائل نصية على ارقام الهواتف على انها مرسلة من قبل #قوى_الأمن الداخلي (ISF) تتضمّن: “انت متهم بجرم الإساءة الى فخامة رئيس الجمهورية عبر مواقع التواصل الإجتماعي بتاريخ 29/10/2019 سوف يتم التواصل معك قريباً” . إن هذه الرسالة غير صحيحة ويجري التحقيق لمعرفة مصدر الإشاعة. pic.twitter.com/9YQtKyZLPn
The Lebanese Internal Security Forces have denied ever sending out any such messages and have since opened up an investigation to track down the source.
#13 A video from Anonymous supporting the revolution
We’ve all seen, I assume, a 30 seconds long video of the decentralized international hacktivist group Anonymous announcing their support to the revolution and even offering to help fight the government corruption.
It has also been proven fake. Anonymous did not post the video on their official twitter page like they normally do.
#14 3.5 billion dollars transferred out from Lebanon in just 48 hours
The former Member of Parliament and one of OMT’s first founders in Lebanon, Amal Abou Zeid, denied this news, insisting that OMT falls under international rules and conditions that make this kind of claim impossible to be true.
As absurd as they can be, these WhatsApp forwarded messages have been the most dangerous and are dividing the people in Lebanon, whether revolutionaries or anti-revolution people.
In that context, it is worth mentioning that some of the biggest wars in the world started on Fake News. For instance, the pre-war Nazi regime staged a border incident designed to make it appear that Poland initiated hostilities. On August 31, 1939, SS men dressed in Polish army uniforms “attacked” a German radio station at Gleiwitz.
The next day, Hitler announced to the German nation and the world his decision to send troops into Poland in response to Polish “incursions” into the Reich.
The Nazi Party Reich Press Office instructed the press to avoid the use of the word war. They were to report that German troops had simply beaten back Polish attacks, a tactic designed to define Germany as the victim of aggression. The responsibility for declaring war would be left to the British and French.
This is how easy fake propaganda can be created. We urge everybody to always double, triple, and even quadruple check any news you get, in order to avoid extreme conflicts that none of us want for our country.