Press Set To Fight Hoaxes Ahead Of Elections

Press Set To Fight Hoaxes Ahead Of Elections
In the latest effort to fight rampant hoaxes, the press has initiated a fake-news buster system – a journalistic collaboration that is expected to be ready for operations by the end of this mount.

It is a collaborative program initiated by the Indonesian Antislader Society (Mafindo), which teamed up with two national cyber newsrooms, * <>* and, as well as Google News Lab Asia Pasific.

The initiative will alse ease the work for every newsroom as members do not have to debunk every single story on their own. “They only need to attribute the debunker’s name in the articles,” Septiaji Said.

Named after a character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata known for its honest traits, Yudistira will be connected to Google’s fact-checking machine and be secured with Google’s Project Shield – a technology to prevent hackers.

Google would also provide training for journalists, espesially with the verification process, said the Google’s News Lab Asia Pasific region head, Irene Jay Liu. This year alone, the training is set to target 1800 journalist accross the country, according to Mafindo. It is not the first time that Google has assisted antihoax movement.

Previously, it supported  collaborative newsroom for the 2016 United States presidential election and last year’s French presidential election. Indonesia is holding simultaneous local election in June and a general election next year.

Mafindo’s initiative came amid rampant hoaxes espesially at election time. The spread of fabricated news hit record highs during the 2017 Jakarta gubernational election. The Indonesian Journalist’s Association noted that during that election, fake political news reached second spot, making up 22 percent of all fake news produced.

The Communications and Information Ministry also recorder that there were 5070 fake news stories at the peak of the election in January 2017. Since then, the government, news outlet and civil society organizations have used different initiatives and programs to address the issue.

Such a collaboration involving different news outlets operating under different media groups is a first in the country. Competition and declining public trust are among the biggest challenges facing the press today.

A 2017 surveys on trust released by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute revealed that the police, often criticized by the media as a corrupt institution, fared better than the press it self. Seventy percent of those sureveyed said sid they believed in the police institution, while only 67
percent trusted the media. 
*) Bayu K, Strategic Assessment journalist. Lives in South Jakarta.
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