Seminar in Balti. Disinformation in mass media. Part 2
On September 14, the Moldovan section of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) held another training seminar in Balti as a part of the project “Mass Media, Opinion Formation, Human Rights”
In her report, the referent Natalia Smurgun demonstrated an example of one of the most outrageous facts of disinformation in Moldova in 2018.
On September 5, 2018, information on the results of the high-profile investigation on undeclared elite foreign real estate of the Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, who brought under his umbrella the entire executive, legislative and judicial power in Moldova, appears in the Moldovan media space.
This information would have caused a great resonance in society if the next day, on September 6, had it not been “overlaid” with another, no less high-profile event. As a matter of urgency, without following any legal procedure, 7 Turkish citizens were expelled from Moldova – teachers in the Turkish Lyceum in Chisinau. Some of them had previously requested political asylum in Moldova. The Moldovan side expelled these people at the request of the Turkish authorities, who claimed that they were connected with the famous preacher Gulen (Gülen) and involved in terrorist activities. Today it is known that already three of the Turkish citizens expelled by Moldova were given long prison terms in their homeland.
Simultaneously with this news, false information appears on news portals that the Moldovan embassy is being evacuated in Berlin, Germany due to terrorist threats from Islamic terrorists.
A week after these press messages, the German embassy in Chisinau made a statement, that all the information on the security threats to the Moldovan embassy employees did not reflect the reality.
Upon completion of the report, a discussion was held on the topic of disinformation, in which Balti journalists, representatives of civil society and local municipal authorities took an active part. It was noted that the fake-news phenomenon affects the economic, political and even psychological life domain in our country.
So one of the seminar participants, the director of the Balti television Rodica Deleu, expressed the opinion that the topic discussed is very voluminous and worthy of being a special course at universities on the faculties of journalism. And it would also be useful if such lessons were held within the framework of the subject of civic education for pupils of the 11th – 12th forms.
The chief editor of the Balti newspaper “SP”, Veaceslav Perunov, noted that we cannot say that Moldova is not fighting the fake news phenomenon. He told us about the special Moldovan portal www.stopfals.md, which constantly carries out an objective review of the news of the Moldovan media space.
Unfortunately, the traffic of this site is not high. It is much easier for people to perceive catchy, flashy headlines than to engage in analysis and find out the degree of truthfulness of the presented information. And if you look at the statistics of visits, then the sites that allow themselves to post lopsided, dubious content have much higher review rates.
He also suggested that something needs to be done at the legislative level. For example, a site distributes fake news, but to find out who legally owns this site is sometimes very difficult or even impossible. He gave an example of one site that disseminated false information, and the authorities, justifying their actions by means of the Data and Private Data Protection Act, did not want to disclose information on the owner of this resource.
Olga Dascal, the lecturer at the pedagogic university, noted that educated youth are able to filter the presented information. But when information is provided simultaneously on multiple information resources, it can be very difficult to determine whether it is reliable or it is propaganda. She also expressed her opinion that it would be useful to give such seminars as often as possible for young people, in schools and universities. It is necessary to teach them to recognize the signs of fake news using concrete examples. Young people are lost when they get into this ocean of information that the Internet provides them, a variety of mass media, numerous television channels. Young people are sold on the information that only looks believable. And often it turns out that there is no one to orient them in the right direction.
A school teacher Maria Danilova expressed her opinion that pupils in high school should be given the basics of knowledge that would allow them to understand which news is true and which has all the properties of being fake.
All the people present agreed that the topic raised was very relevant for Moldova and the selection of materials for the seminar was useful. And it would be nice if such events were held as often as possible. The process of educating a healthy civil society should be ongoing. Seminar participants said that they would share the information they received with their surroundings, at work and at home. They will also be more attentive to the information provided by the mass media and will teach other people the same.