Dangerous fake news

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A document circulated on social media over the weekend purported to be official. It read that the responsibilities of Minister of the Environment Romauld Ferreira were reassigned to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis. Essentially, it said Ferreira had been fired.

The document had the Bahamas coat of arms at the top and the header “Cabinet Office, The Constitution Allocation of Portfolio”.

Speaking to the media on the matter following the opening of three new restaurants at Marina Village, Atlantis, on Saturday, Minnis described the document as “fake news”.

“I have told my entire Cabinet just to remain focused,” he said.

“Just stay on the highway. You know where the goal [is]. You know what to achieve. You know the goal, and just head towards the goal post.”

In this social media age, too many people receive messages uncritically. They don’t know where it’s from, yet they read it, believe it and share it with others. In seconds millions of people could have seen a message.
Propagandists deliberately create much of the content posted to social media that is shared on phones. They do this to misinform. The lies and foolishness are intended to attack someone or something, or to make people think something in order to advance an agenda.

Someone has it out for the environment minister. His name is called in story after story in the online gossip sites and via “unsourced stories” on social media. Some of that’s just politics. This purported document, though, goes further.

The Cabinet is the functional executive of The Bahamas. It has extraordinary powers. A person creating fake instructions from Cabinet could cause disorder. What if the person had created a document that appeared to be from Cabinet stating that Cabinet had just given 50,000 Haitians citizenship? It would have caused an uproar considering Bahamian feelings on the subject.

Declaring messages fake news doesn’t fully diminish the impact. Once people already read it, a certain percentage of readers will believe the information even after a denial is given by an official source. Propagandists know this. Hence, they throw out constant streams of accusations just to harm their targets.

What was done in the creation of this fake on Ferreira truly was fraud. It’s virtually impossible for police to track down the origin of such reports, however.

We have said many times that it is essential to be skeptical of what people send you on social media. Stick with reliable sources. Ignore the noise. Reject unsourced material. Reading, watching and listening to nonsense fills your brain with things that are untrue.

When seeking news and information, read and watch material from credible sources. Old news organizations with reputations of integrity abide by standards. They verify before reporting. If they get it wrong they tell you and make a correction.

It being forwarded to you doesn’t make it true. Don’t allow yourselves to be used by people you don’t know with agendas you are unaware of.

The post Dangerous fake news appeared first on The Nassau Guardian.

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