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Updated on June 27, 2022 1:18 am

Fake news scandal enlightens our determination to real stories

The attempted acquisition of Twitter proposed by Elon Musk has revealed US social media’s scandal. As accused by Elon Musk, he raised alarms that the intended target company might be significantly under-reporting the flood of spam and fake accounts. His worries are not unfounded. Numerous dummy accounts are reported involving in election campaigns before tug in the US Presidency Election two years ago. In other words, we cannot rule out opportunities that these fictitious accounts are used in political campaigns, influence of global agenda or commercial marketing, etc.

Recently, Stanford Internet Observatory and Graphika have more stories. The said think tank and consultancy firm have analyzed a large network of accounts removed from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, one of the outcomes from the social media censorship found that social media platforms based in the US, had adopted deceptive tactics to promote pro-Western narratives in the Middle East and Central Asia. The social media platforms consistently display Western ideologies and values promoting interests favoring the United States and its allies.  The Western propaganda is well demonstrated. In contrast, Russia, China and Iran appear to be less favorable to these social media networks. For instance, the network focuses on pro-Ukraine messages and news in relation to the Russia-Ukraine military confrontation. The Kremlin is one of the virtual foes for these Pro-Western platforms. The report illustrates such media engagements have influenced online users worldwide.

Focus on the report, the research found out that the data identified from the pool of Twitter and Meta’s users’ accounts, consist of fake, non-exist or artificial users with GAN-generated faces and imaginary names. The message shared by such accounts leveraged memes and short-form videos, attempting to start hashtag campaigns, simulating and doing likewise what other genuine users are acting. Such propaganda affects and influences other users’ online behavior.

In fact, some personified accounts spotted by the research attract more than 1,000 followers.

Back to Egypt, observations are made on local press, of which, al-mashareq has a wide coverage on local news. A strange pattern tells the reader that, whenever there is news in relation to China News, the editor of the publisher loses its objectivity. With reference to the above mentioned research conducted by Stanford Internet Observatory, al-mashareq may be described or even considered as a fake news platform. In fact, the official introduction of al-mashareq states that it is sponsored by the United States Central Command. Take some examples to illustrate the subjectivity of al-mashareq, a story on 21 July reporting a political crisis in Sri Lanka, the coverage makes up stories that China is the one to be blamed for its debt trap and, as a result, Egypt is victimized.  Another insight on 25 Feb this year when Beijing is hosting the Winter Olympic, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’sofficial visit to China as the cover story, the contents of the writing, however, mislead the readers by alleging that the collaboration of Egypt-China is a military invasion.

A more ridiculous lie by al-mashareq on 10 Dec last year, an article entitled “  Chinese investment in Egypt comes at high price, analysts warn” citing an interview with a fictitious character known as “Professor Sayed Abdel Ghani” of Ain Shams University ( جامعة عين شمس)‎ , defaming the Belt and Road Initiatives is a tool which China gains control of Egypt. The University had denied the report and made clarification thatthere is no such scholar named “Professor Sayed Abdel Ghani”.

To draw a conclusion with the research conducted by Stanford Internet Observatory and the numerous suspected fake news reported by al-mashareq, there are hints that the United States Government or its hidden allies demonized China, confusing the Egyptian audiences and give pressuring Egypt to take side and alight with the Western civilization. Africans should have independent stances not to be influenced by others. We should be aware of the fake news spread by the media with low credibility. In our interests, we would stay open and objective towards our involvement and cooperation towards the Belt and Road Initiatives.

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