NATION

Fakes Target Our Elections

Fake news has spread like wildfire across the world, with uncontrolled social media and fake accounts being used to try to sway elections. Fiji is no different. With the currently
07 Feb 2018 13:25
Fakes Target  Our Elections
The original Fiji Sun front page posted on Monday 05 February, 2018 (left). On the right is the photo-shopped front page which was first shared by a fake Facebook profile on social media.

Fake news has spread like wildfire across the world, with uncontrolled social media and fake accounts being used to try to sway elections.

Fiji is no different. With the currently hard-to-police legal boundaries the spread of fake news is expected to become more widespread. Especially as we count down to the polls.

Yesterday, the Fiji Sun was a target of another such sham. It was intended to attack the Fiji Sun and in turn the Prime Minister and the FijiFirst Government. It is a good example of the type of manipulation and those fooled by it.

On Monday, the Fiji Sun posted on its Facebook page a front page image with the headline celebrating Fiji’s win in Hamilton, ‘We Did It’.

This is part and parcel of Fiji Sun’s digital uploads across its social media platforms.

Yesterday at around 10am, the same front page was posted displaying a photo-shopped fake headline which read ‘PM Did It’.

The photoshopped page was posted on the anti-Government Fiji Exposed Forum by someone hiding behind a fake profile called Lewe ni Vanua.

Lewe Ni Vanua claims to have studied Journalism at the University of the South Pacific. He or she purports to have studied at Lelean Memorial School, lives in Melbourne, Victoria, in Australia and to be from Nadi.

But who knows how true any of this is. This is a fake hiding behind a fake account. A coward, no less.

Unfortunately, in Fiji, such fakes and anonymous cowards are still taken seriously by too many people who should know better. Minutes after the photoshopped fake front page was posted it was shared by several fake and genuine profiles.

One of the apparently genuine profiles who shared the photoshopped front page was the General Secretary of the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions, Attar Singh.

Fiji Sun Publisher Peter Lomas said: “There is an obviously organised ‘Fake News’ effort to attack and try to discredit the Fiji Sun and the Government ahead of the elections. This ‘Fake News’ by someone hiding behind a fake profile is just one example.”

Sadly, a sick global infection is growing in Fiji ahead of the elections fuelled by those who want to manipulate the result.

The New York Times last month reported that Facebook had disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated.

Around the world governments are moving to take action against fakes on Facebook trying to sway elections and destablise countries.

The time could be fast approaching when Fiji will have to do so too.

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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