Charities slurred by vicious, right wing fake news

Fake news crop

‚ÄčTrump supporters, racists and despotic states attack aid organisations

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16th February 2018 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Right wingers are undermining international charities by slurring them with vicious fake news stories, a new report claims. 

Aid agencies have been the targeted by racists and Donald Trump supporters, as well as states such as Saudi Arabia.

Fake news stories have been spread widely on social media in a concerted attempt to damage charities’ reputation, says the report, which was published this week as the international aid sector is reeling from actual damaging revelations over sexual abuse.

The extent of the smears against NGOs is outlined in the report called Faking It, published by the International Broadcasting Trust.

Among the cases cited are false claims about the Red Cross in the US in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

In one video posted on Facebook which subsequently went viral, it was alleged that the charity had stolen donated items from churches in Houston and then sold some of the items and burned others.

Save the Children has also been the target of attacks by racist, anti-immigrant groups, which falsley claimed it colludes with traffickers in the Mediterranean at bring people to Europe.

Among the news sites the report identified as having circulated fake news about NGOs is one well know right-wing media organisation – Breitbart, which has been a prominent supporter of Donald Trump and the far right in the US.

State actors are also at play in smearing the sector – the report cites Saudi government claims about Save the Children in Yemen as part of efforts to discredit the organisation.

Individuals have also been victims. Girish Menon, chief executive of ActionAid, gave an interview to Sky News in the early part of 2017.

In it he expressed the charity’s concerns about the planned state visit of President Trump in the light of his views towards women and marginalised communities.

He said: “At midnight I got a message from my son to say something had popped up on LinkedIn about me being an Isis agent. I was tired and laughed it off at that stage, but the next morning I had received many messages as had the chair of ActionAid. We discovered that the message originated from a fake news site hosted in the US.”

Equally, NGOs risk reputational damage by paddling fake news themselves – even if they do it unintentionally.

The report states: “Misinformation [can be] spread by NGOs, whether intentionally in a bid to increase support, or unintentionally through a failure to check sources and data.

“Without rigorous attention to detail, campaign headlines can too easily mislead the public. This is illustrated by a tendency to exaggerate or conflate numbers, for example, of refugees and internally displaced persons, in order to create a greater sense of crisis… descriptions can become more attention-grabbing – biggest famine ever etc – and that can devalue the information being offered.”

Mark Galloway, director of the International Broadcasting Trust said: “Fake news is of course a very topical issue and much has been written about it, but this is the first report that examines the implications of fake news for the charity sector. In an increasingly strident online environment it’s much harder for charities to be heard.

“It’s also easy for them to fall victim to false accusations, which often originate online but gain traction through mainstream media. Sometimes misinformation is disseminated by NGOs, whether intentionally or not.

“As many institutions, including charities, suffer from a loss of trust, some audiences are more likely to listen to their family and friends than to traditional news sources. In this report we examine the phenomenon of fake news and look at specific examples that have had a direct impact on charities, particularly those involved with international development. And we make recommendations to help charities negotiate the increasingly complex media landscape and rebuild trust amongst their supporters, the media and the general public.”

You can read the full report here.

16th February 2018 by lok yue

Once again TFN is allowing its political colours to affect its aim of speaking for the sector. Not 'vicious fake news' which it is but 'vicious right wing fake news'. Why does the paper have this political bias - the political left does NOT have a monopoly in supporting for or working in the Third Sector. Report the news, please, but leave out the political bias or news fakery will creep in