Living with the Lies!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 12 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

There is a difference between an event that is interesting to the public taking place, with the authorities late to comment on it or clarify, and a rumour that is deliberately fabricated and spread to provoke an infuriated public response and inquisition.

This isn’t something exclusive to our societies out of all other countries. It is a global phenomenon of the media industry, which has progressively and dramatically enhanced its deceptive news machine.

Its main playground nowadays? Social media and anonymous electronic platforms.

When a certain fabricated piece of news spreads, it goes viral, and spreads exponentially throughout the web. Once the wildfire takes on, it becomes extremely difficult to pin down its source or track it down. It’s automatically and instantaneously archived to pop on search engines the moment one looks for it.

Typically, this makes a fabricated news piece a reliable, document, piece of information, referable by researches and journalists.

Rumours and lies no longer go with the wind or taken out of record.

Whether one likes it or not, it is now part of one’s resume and digital biography.

All the same, authorities and individuals usually find themselves in an awkward and often difficult situation when fabricated news is released on them. They are usually required to deny them, and this is exactly the kind of grounds it takes for a fabrication to become a plausible possibility.

Once an individual or institution denies it goes down as an official story, such as “this person or that institution denies that this or that ever happened”, for instance. With that all over the media, the fabrication becomes allegation; one which is humoured by an official denial, and so, it sticks.

This whole thing has a lot to do social media and digital technology, which allows for citizens to source news; become reporters.

At first, traditional and respectable media channels and news agencies welcomed this new leap in information and communication technology with arms wide open. But they soon learnt of its perils, as many newspapers and television channels fell for the citizen reporter trap of false and fabricated news

Hence, apps were designed to validate news deliberated via the internet, and global platforms developed tool to identify verified and reliable sources. Sometimes, these platforms would take down unreliable media.

Still, despite these verification procedures, fabricated news travel seamlessly, as around per cent of the world’s sources for internet news are independent.

In Jordan, despite all the government measures to combat the phenomenon of false news, a vast section of social media users fail to recognise the legal consequences of publishing or circulating such news.

In many instances, people get dragged into a trench or a position to back a political figure or stance which turns out to be merely a public smearing campaign without knowing the repercussions of it, until they stand trial that is.

The personal motives behind fabricating news and spreading rumours usually go under the professional and ethical radar and criteria which control news in the media. Usually too, the purpose of such fabrication goes not beyond smearing someone’s reputation despite of the damage which follows.

As this sort of behaviour spreads to the point that it has become incontrollable, it has become easy for anyone to craft themselves a multimedia platform to voice their views, even fabrications.

That said, there is no need to gratify any false news with denial. Instead let it die out.

False news, when not gratified, often die quickly.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.