Fake news and social stability
Feb 17, 2021
Fake news is nothing new. It has been around for a long time and has been largely used as a means of misinformation particularly in wars, because of its ability to twist facts and influence public opinion. With the rapid rise of smartphones and social media, fake news is traveling fast and becoming more prevalent at the same time, making it difficult to trace the source. In Lebanon, the widespread and circulation of fake news stirred up problems, fear, tensions, and conflicts among families and sects within the same region or across the country. These problems have often evolved into violence, thus putting social stability and civil peace at stake.
As we strongly believe in the role of the youth and their ability to make an influence and drive change, and within the framework of the “Mechanisms for Stability and Local Development” (MSLD) developed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), with support from the United Kingdom (UK), Dawaer Foundation has trained and coached 40 young men and women from 10 Lebanese villages: Damour, Choueifat, Aley, Amioun, Chekka, Tripoli, Qobb Elias, Riyaq, Haret Saida, and Magdoucheh on raising awareness on fake news and its impact on social stability as well as providing best practices on verifying news in general.
In an effort to underscore the danger of re-publishing fake news, the youth worked on a toolkit that guides readers to spot fake news, combat it, and limit its spread and impact on social stability. With the guidance and support of Dawaer foundation, the youth designed and drafted the content of this toolkit that guides the readers to spot fake news. It includes several supporting tools to identify news and photos circulated on social media. It sheds light on some existing practices, through mainstream and digital media outlets, in reporting news and circulating images, without fact-checking and without taking into account the damage it could incur on certain individuals or groups.
The toolkit serves as a reference document for youth to counter fake news in their regions and play a pivotal role in verifying news. It is also addressed to municipalities as official and influential entities, organizations, schools and youth and locals who are interested in it. Citizens, in general, can rely on the manual to interpret the media messages they receive on a daily basis.