In times of unrest and instability such as the ones prevailing in Lebanon, rumors and misinformation can be very disruptive as we’ve seen in several cases.
For this reason, Lebanese Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad introduced the “Fact Check Lebanon” webpage.
During the recent “Curbing Fake News Forum” held in the Grand Serail in Beirut, the Minister launched the website to expose and debunk fake news and inaccurate claims, especially those that recurrently show up on social media platforms.
During the Forum, attended by representatives of embassies and UN bodies in Lebanon, a number of Lebanese politicians, as well as delegates from Twitter and Facebook, Abdel Samad noted that fact-checking is nothing short of an obligation.
In her own words, “misinformation campaigns and rumors against the government are reprehensible, not to mention aim to make its rescue mission more difficult to achieve.”
These campaigns, the Minister said, aim to drown people in desperation and to “kill their sense of initiation and their will to develop the country.” Thus, fighting them is very important as is “self-censorship.”
With the technology available today, it has become very easy to fabricate false information and broadcast it on a very wide scale through the manipulation of unsuspecting masses on the cyberspace, particularly popular social media.
Therefore, Minister Abdel Samad found it important to make it possible for any citizen to check the validity of doubtful and suspicious news and claims.
On this basis, the Information Ministry created the website and made it easily accessible through the website of Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA).
Notably, Abdel Samad pointed out that, while it is not possible to completely halt misinformation campaigns, it is very possible to mitigate them, which is what “Fact Check Lebanon” is intended to assist with.
The “Curbing Fake News Forum,” which took place on Wednesday, included journalists and experts who provided their different perspectives on the problem of fake news, in addition to interviews with people abroad via Skype.