In The Face of The Proliferation of Fake News what can broadcasters do?
From 16 to 20 May 2023, the AUB is organizing the 14th edition of its General Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, under the theme: "Impacts and Challenges of African Broadcasting in the Digital Transformation of The World". An opportunity for African Media Professionals to reflect on the technological advances observed so far in the vast field of broadcasting.
It is an open secret that almost all African audiovisual media are yet have an autonomous structure for information verification. To get around the traps of disinformation that plagues the work of journalists, each reporter goes with his little trick. Mahamat Sy works in a Senegalese audiovisual media. To twist the neck of fake news, the young reporter places all his trust in his source.
"When I receive sports news and I want to broadcast it, I systematically consult my favorite sites; L'Equipe, for world sports news, AfrikFoot for African football news. These are credible sources that I have trusted for years. I trust them," the reporter suggested.
Madi Wade, on his part, does not rule out the idea of making a phone call directly to an informant within a political party to do away with any ambiguity.
"When I have doubts, I directly give a call to my source in the party or the concerned politician. This is for clarity reasons."
But that's ideal. Because, in practice, the path of verifying information is long and winding. If journalists concerned about ethics and deontology find a minute to cross-check before any broadcast, the verification procedures seem obsolete today in view of the advanced technology that facilitates the creation and spread of fake news.
From the young intern taking his first steps in a newsroom, to the editor-in-chief, to the "senior journalist" steeped in experience, no one escapes the trap of Fake News.
Who has not seen, scrolling on his smartphone or in the cloud the head of a public figure in a body that was not his? Who has not followed on television "the death of the Head of State of Gabon", Ali Bongo Ondimba, while he was in intensive care in a hospital in Saudi Arabia? Who has not seen the information circulating that the Nigerian presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has received for his candidacy, the anointing of the homosexual community called Association of Nigerian Gay Men (ANGAM)? The manufacturers of this hoax have also created a Twitter account before publishing the supposed message of support, with a photo in support.
How Artificial Intelligence Amplifies Fake News
The creators of Fake News are increasing in number and nothing seems to stop them. Gone are the days when we only used Photoshop software to fake an image. Today, the social network Reddit, applications such as Lyrebird, Motion Transfer or Facial Reenactment allow you to modify your facial expression, body movements and clone your voice in order to have ultra-realistic videos.
This is how cybercriminals make personalities say what they want to hear, feature in pornographic films celebrities about whom they fantasize, put on the same table, two sworn enemies, without the general public noticing the deception. Since websites specializing in the dissemination of this false information have emerged, their articles are snapped up on the web like pieces of bread. In an interview with the newspaper Enquêtes, Mr. Mamadou Ndiaye, Director of the Center of Information and Communication Studies (CESTI), in Dakar, said: "From now on, the information that floods the web is manufactured by algorithms, by institutions, by one or more media paid for by an individual or a group. Traditional journalism can suffer, because in addition to losing the monopoly of information, journalists end up no longer controlling the very sources of this news.”
The AUB at the forefront of the struggle
Faced with the gravity of the situation, the AUB has initiated training sessions on this subject of concern which has earned some media professionals sanctions following the dissemination of information that turned out to be false.
Already, the South African news site’ Eyewitness News’ has launched an initiative allowing users to detect fake news with a list of websites already identified. However, on the continent, media professionals have become aware of the seriousness of the phenomenon. But the fight should be intensified so that our countries do not lag behind; hence the invitation to debate in Abuja.
The 14th edition of the AUB General Assembly will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the role of the media in the fight against cancer. There will also be exchanges on the broadcasting rights of sporting events, the AUB SHOW, as well as an Awards ceremony for the winners of the very first AUB production competition.
AUB’s GA in Abuja will be open to experts, academics, students, sports specialists, media professionals to mention but a few.