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"Fake news" in the time of COVID-19

Authors:

Abstract

These are the 25 slides I used in an online lecture via Zoom on March 27, 2020. The video of this lecture may be retrieved from Bulatlat's Facebook page (https://web.facebook.com/63467907915/videos/645212126055509/) or my YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/bXedre9AFsM).
Danilo A. Arao
Associate Professor of Journalism
University of the Philippines (UP)
Diliman
Associate Editor, Bulatlat
Editor, Media Asia
Discussion outline
What is “fake news”?
What are examples of “fake news”?
How do you spot “fake news”?
Why are there “fake news”?
Who benefits from “fake news”?
How should we analyze “fake news”
What is to be done? (conclusion)
Where do we go from here? (recommendation)
27 March 2020
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D. A. Arao
What is “fake news”?
(Compound Noun) “false, often sensational,
information disseminated under the guise of
news reporting” (Collins Dictionary; word of the
Year in 2017)
Refers to lies, misinformation and
disinformation; also “alternative facts”
Used since 1890 as a compound noun; before
that the term “false news” was used
Related term used in the recent past: “zombie
facts”
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What is “fake news”?
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What
is
“fake
news”?
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What
is
“fake
news”?
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6
What are examples
of “fake news”?
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What are examples of “fake news”?
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What
are
examples
of “fake
news”?
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What is “fake news”?
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10
Allegedly real (1:40 p.m.)
@bongbongmarcos
Only BBM tested; still waiting for
results
Allegedly fake (12:52 p.m.)
@hackneyedutopia
Testing done for BBM and all staff;
results negative
What is “fake news”?
@hackneyedutopia
Name: GABBY (no surname)
Profile: "New Account • Naturalist • Marcos
Loyalist •"
First tweet: March 18, 10:15 p.m.
357 tweets as of March 26, 9:36 p.m.
75 following, 9 followers
Some media organizations and socmed
“influencers” used this “dubious” account as
source in reporting the alleged statement of Liza
Marcos about her husband Bongbong.
27 March 2020D. A. Arao
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What is “fake news”?
Looks fake, but REAL
Reflection of the kind of officials we have
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What is “fake news”?
Looks fake,
but REAL
(alarmist
spin)
Reflection
of the kind
of officials
we have
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REAL COVID-19 DATA
As of March 27, 2020
1:30 p.m.
Philippines World
Deaths 45 21,031
Confirmed cases 707 465,915
Case fatality rate
(deaths / cases) x 100
6.36% 4.51%
Sources of basic data: DOH, WHO
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FAKE COVID-19 INFO
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How do you spot “fake news”?
Form
Grammar, syntax, diction
Source (i.e., institution, author, URL, handle)
Graphics (i.e., logo, pictures, footage)
Content
Names, places, events, dates
Verifiability of messages
Sense of “urgency,” “alarm” and other subjective
feelings
Eagerness to share
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Why are there “fake news”?
To silence dissent by spreading lies repeated
over and over by an army of trolls
To discredit the critical media by branding them
as “fake news” peddlers
To consolidate the regime’s support base by
framing an “alternative reality” based on
“alternative facts”
To justify repressive policies and programs in
the absence of truth
27 March 2020D. A. Arao
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Who benefits from “fake news”?
Authoritarian governments (e.g., Hitler’s
reference to the media as the “lying press”)
Organized online trolls who earn from engaging
in flame wars, character assassinations and
other logical fallacies
Individuals who engage in debates without the
benefit of research
Defenders of the status quo, no matter how
repressive it has become
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How should we
analyze “fake news”?
Fake news as an industry
Dominant media’s corporate
structure makes it prone to
spreading “fake news”
e.g., Facebook’s profit-
oriented perspective
prevents filtering
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How should
we analyze
“fake news”?
Selection
of
columnists
is based on
what?
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How should we
analyze
“fake news”?
And while we’re at
it, selection of
broadcasters is
based on what?
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Last case study...
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What is to be done?
Be critical
Don’t believe everything you read, watch or listen
to
Don’t feed the trolls
Engage in constructive criticism if necessary
Take the media to task for their weaknesses
Don’t just depend on one source of information
Multi-sourcing is most important
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Where do we go from here?
Expose the government and many its supporters
(especially online) as purveyors of “fake news”
Oppose “fake news” provision in RA 11469
Expose baseless media accreditation for
coverage in quarantine areas
Be critical of how national and local government
repress freedom of the press and of expression
in the guise of containing COVID-19 pandemic
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Danilo A. Arao
Associate Editor, Bulatlat
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