SAM Organization released an in-depth report. The report included the opinions of 100 participants in an electronic questionnaire prepared by the research team to provide an overview of the deceptive information scene in the country.
The report entitled “Digital Media Disinformation in Yemen... Repercussions and Possible Solutions” revealed that political polarization and the military conflict have took over the media in the country and contributed to the emergence of a discourse that ignites war more and more, pointing out that rumors have become one of the most important war weapons and the most employed by the local and regional actors in the Yemeni scene.
The report alerted to the danger of relying on social media platforms as a reliable source of news, and interacting with what is being published on them and sharing it without verifying its credibility and truth. Further, the report point out that the involvement of media professionals (pertaining to the conflicting parties) in the chaos of disinformation has aggravated its danger and repercussions.
The report showed that nearly 70% of the survey participants always rely on social media platforms to get news, while the rate of news followers through news websites reached 23%, which suggest that Yemenis' reliance on social media platforms may explain the decline in their trust in the content published on news websites that are dominated by sharp political polarization, in a way that seemed to be huge machines pumping misleading propaganda, in addition to their position in the category of yellow journalism, which lacks professionalism and objectivity, as the participants trust rate in the local media is below 37%.
For the public’s interaction with what is published on social media, 45% of the participants said that they verify the news on a permanent basis, 34% usually verify it, and 10% sometimes, while 11% do not t/or rarely verify it; further, according to 84% of the participants, political topics are the most likely to be subject to Disinformation.
Further, the report showed that the forms of deceptive information vary according to the medium and context in which it is published, indicating that the most deceptive information that respondents encounter on the digital platforms are mainly in the form of unprofessional yellow journalism (81%), followed by fabricated and inconsistent information (79%), in addition to this form of Disinformation that is based on selecting certain facts about an issue while neglecting important facts about the same issue at the same time (61%); Also, the propaganda is one of the most common forms of deceptive information according to 61% of respondents. 43% of respondents believe that Disinformation comes in the form of a “wrong context”, in addition to a “negative link between two different topics” according to of 41% of respondents.
The report considered that the process of creating and disseminating deceptive information and fake news is not arbitrary, but rather has motives and goals that its publishers seek to achieve, with the exception of those who circulate it due to their “ignorance” that it is deceptive and untrue, citing the opinions of respondents, where 79% said that publishing fake news and deceptive information comes with the aim of “achieving political, military, and material gains,” as well as “distracting public opinion and covering up other facts,” in addition to “harming, or undermining groups/acting parties,” according to (74%) of the participants, while 49% said that the motive for deceptive information is to “the scoop”; for 41% of the respondents, they reported that there are those who spread fake news and deceptive information because of their ignorance that the information is “not true”.
The report pointed out that anonymous accounts on social media platforms are the most generators of fake news and deceptive, followed by social media activists, news websites, then media professionals and journalists, and finally politicians, according to the participants.
The report stated that spreading hatred and deepening the division among Yemenis is the most prominent repercussions of media Disinformation, as stated by (93%) of the participants. It limits their ability to see or distinguish the truth, while 63% believe that deceptive information leads to a change in the way the public perceives a particular issue or topic; finally, 62% reported that deceptive information undermines their trust in the media.
For measures to reduce the spread of deceptive information, 57% of the participant believe that “holding the party providing deceptive information accountable” is the most effective measure to reduce the spread of media Disinformation, followed by “building partnerships between fact-checking platforms and social media companies” (50%), and “Following the news from multiple sources” (49%), then “raising awareness among the public” (48%), and finally promoting news literacy and supporting professional journalism (43%).
The report noted that the digital age brings about several challenges related to information literacy for civil society, showing that with “the huge amounts of information that flood us every day, it is difficult to sort reliable information from fabricated; while and new technologies for creating and sharing information on a large scale allow the dissemination of information. Furthermore, the escalating conflict between speed and accuracy has increased the chances that the misinformation, in addition to the fact that social media is making it very easy to select information that supports pre-existing “individuals’ beliefs.”
Sam’s organization report (within the Digital Rights project implemented by the organization in cooperation with Internews) called on “press and media institutions” to adhere to the profession ethics and principles, to adopt informed and ethical journalism standards, and to adopt best practices in publishing, affirming the need for journalists to rely on reliable and trustworthy and credible sources in obtaining information, and ascertaining that the information is supported by coherent and balanced evidence.
Also, the report called on the authorities not to use official media outlets to spread deceptive information to serve political agendas, in addition to avoiding manipulation of public opinion, and everything that would affect “citizens' perceptions and their vision of the truth.”
The report recommended “organizations and donors” to invest in supporting platforms concerned with “fighting deceptive information” to enable them to continue their enlightening and purposeful mission, which will contribute to highlighting the truth, and limiting the spread of hatred fueled by deceptive informtion.