When hoaxes undermine journalism

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Cathy Wilcox is creating an illustration. | Photo by Albizia Akbar

“Our work…is undermined by the hoaxes… Who’s going to believe us in the midst of all these hoaxes?”

“Who’s going to believe us in the midst of all these hoaxes?”

The above statement made by Yuli Ismartono, a journalist of Tempo investigative magazine, in a 2017 World Press Freedom Days’ session on curbing fake news and hate speech online, has reflected a serious impact of hoaxes circulated via social networks to the journalism.

Although the platforms has offered access of freedom of expression for the public, they still pose potential danger of misleading society with false information. Therefore, Agung Yudha, a Public Policy Lead of Twitter Indonesia, suggested that public must maintain a balance between having a freedom of expression and not being misused by certain people who spread libels an hate speech.

“It’s difficult [to do it] because even credible people could unintentionally trust dubious sources,” he said.

Yudha pointed out that the right of freedom of expression put forward an important notion that the opinions or views expressed should not violate others’ rights of freedom.

“Freedom of expression mean you can express your view, you can express your opinion as whatever you want, but not as a pretext to attack others,” he said.

 

“Freedom of expression means you can express your view, you can express your opinion as whatever you want, but not as a pretext to attack others.”

According to him, the reason behind the circulation of hoaxes or fake news in social networks is due to the lack of education among users. Moreover it is often the case that the users do not really comply with the terms and conditions set by the social media networks.

“If you want to join (or use their services), know and follow the rules. In Twitter, we also have our own rules and terms of service,” Yudha said.

“When you click ‘agree’ (when you sign up), we assume you (have read) and agree to our rules. But if you actually break the rules, don’t blame us when we suspend your account or give other sanctions.”

Agung Yudha, Public Policy Lead of Twitter Indonesia (Photo by Ben Lazar Latuihamallo/VOM)

Improving User Literacy

Yudha said the most effective way to counter fake use is by improving literacy among the users. While the users can identify certain fake news, they can actively report the post to the social network admin for a review.

“People can always debunk what they think aren’t right,” Yudha said, adding that it is impossible to rely on algorithmical program to detect fake news or hate speech in social networks as the language is too dynamic and complicated.

Meanwhile, Rohan Jayasekera, a journalist and and a right advocate on freedom of expression, admitted that it is not easy to identify whether certain information is fake or not.

“We can’t be 100 percent sure, but it may be easier if sources are more transparent with their reporting,” Rohan said.

The writer is student at Universitas Multimedia Nusantara

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