2:30 - 3:45 pm
In the second session of the first day of the Fourth Point Iraq Conference, held on July 22, 2022, Ahmed Al-Hashem, an independent journalist and translator from Iraq, invited the speakers to the conference stage: Dr. Walid Al-Hayouni, founder of the “Journalists Against Fake News and Hate Speech” association from Tunisia, Driss Jawad, a journalist for Al-Sharq News Channel, and Hussein Zamel, director of the Media Organization Department at the Media and Communications Authority, from Iraq, and Haitham Moanes, founder of the Miter News project from Egypt, joined them through the Zoom application.
During the session, the participants presented experiences in monitoring fake news in some regions of the Arab world, such as the Meter News website and the “Monitor Plus” platform, which depend on artificial intelligence techniques in classifying and verifying news.
"Artificial intelligence and accessing its applications in detecting misinformation saves our time,” says Haitham Moanes, Founder of the Media News Meter Project in Egypt.
Meter News was established at the time of the protests that happened in Egypt in 2013. At first it was specialized in correcting news and categorizing them as fake news or not? And now, Meter News evaluates the media content in newspapers, and classifying them from good to worse, so that the platform will be a means of pressure on local newspapers.
The team work was able to put 20 questions to be answered through the news, and these questions are divided into 59% of them related to human rights and is the news far from hate, and the project was able to reach more than 20 thousand evaluations and more than 1100 topics for the 10 most important local newspapers in Egypt.
"The phenomenon of fake news is as old as societies, and today we live in a post-truth era," says Dr. Waleed Al-Hayouni, clarified the ambiguity of naming fake news or misinformation, so during his speech, he referred to the use of the term Misinformation, “The information can be anywhere in the news, a picture, or an audio record, so describing it as misinformation is more accurate.”
Through history, misinformation passed in many transformations, in which many influential people fell victim, such as the French president, who bought a plane from a Belgian company costs 800 million French francs(FF) to reveal the whereabouts of the oil, then we discovered that it was “Fake News” in 1977, says Dr. Waleed Al-Hayouni, an Information Verification Specialist " Fake news can bring down an entire political systems and everyone can fall victim".
During his speech to the audience of Point Conference 4.0, Al-Hayouni remembered many institutions fell victim of fake news, “In Tunisia all the institutions that we have, fell victim for fake news regarding the presidency.” This matter was not limited to Tunisian institutions, but even to international channels, such as Al-Arabiya. Al-Hayouni attributed the reason to the journalists’ reliance on social media as a source of news.
Misinformation is widely spread in major events and electoral benefits. Communication researchers consider the periods of the U.S election in 2016 and French election in 2018 are milestones in the history of misinformation. Dr. Waleed explains, “Donald Trump is the godfather of Fake News, and in his campaign he used fake news extensively, every thirty seconds there is an automated tweet that promote him and brings down his political opponents.
The researchers and those who interested in the field of misinformation attribute the reason for its spread to the spread of social media and the absence of laws in the Arab region. He says, “A person can hide behind fake accounts and publish fake news without knowing his identity.” Facebook closed more than 250 million fake accounts in 2018, Waleed adds. "We have no laws either"
After presenting international experiences regarding to verification, Hussein Zamel, participated to talk about Iraq's situation in the field of information verification. Zamel believes that "The world is advance of our institution in the field of information verification, but we are working to create a specialized Iraqi institution exposing misinformation”.
While the journalist Edrias Jwad believes that "Iraqi laws need some amendments and introducing electronic media to them." Dr. Waleed Al-Hayouni agreed with this opinion in order to confront fake news, the session agreed on "A cooperation between civil society institutions, in addition to the journalist's commitment to the moral responsibility of transmitting information." At the end of the conversation, Waleed Al-Hayouni presented a proposal to the founders of Point Iraq in order to obtain the Tunisian “Monitor Plus” application, which was given to Lebanon and Libya in order to monitor misinformation and hate speech.