Fake News: an emerging threat to anti-corruption activists

How can a single fabricated news video impede the momentum of anticorruption activists and reformers.

Posted on GAB | The Global Anticorruption Blog
By Shanil Wijesinha

The reputation of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (ANTAC), a Ukrainian anticorruption NGO, was called into question in May 2017, when a video featuring a report from the American “News24” network appeared on YouTube; the video reported on investigations into the finances of Vitaliy Shabunin, the head of the ANTAC board.

A few months later, in September 2017, Ukraine’s NewsOne featured a live broadcast of a sitting of the US Congressional Committee on Financial Issues in relation to alleged corruption in the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). The hearing focused largely on the conduct of Valeriya Hontareva, who had championed reforms of the banking sector to prevent misuse of the system by business tycoons. The panelists suggested that Ms. Hontareva was herself corrupt and being investigated by the US Congress.

Reports that leading figures fighting for more integrity in Ukraine might themselves be corrupt are, of course, disturbing. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that both of these stories were completely fabricated.

News24 does not exist

The news anchor who appeared in the purported News24 video was an American actor named Michael-John Wolfe, hired through the site Fiverr.com. As for the broadcast of the hearing before the “US Congressional Committee on Financial Issues”—there is no such committee. The so-called “hearing” was in fact a private event organized by lobbyists (including former congressman Connie Mack), held in a room in the basement of the US Capitol without the attendance of any current members of Congress.

Finding more effective ways to combat the spread of fake news will be important not only for maintaining the health of democratic systems, but for ensuring that corrupt officials do not impede the momentum of anticorruption activists and reformers.

Read complete article Fake News: An Emerging Threat to Anticorruption Activists | Shanil Wijesinha | The Global Anticorruption Blog

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