Metamorphosis Foundation is joining forces on the occasion of marking 2nd April – Fact-Checking Day this year as well. Series of fact-checking events in the country and on international level will take place throughout this whole week.
This year’s Fact-Checking Day is defined by increased pressure from the influx of disinformation and the need to manage disinformation as well as the ever-growing engagement of those who are disseminating such disinformation through various contemporary channels of communication in the public discourse.
If this time last year we were still dealing with the usual Covid-19 related lies, especially with the anti-Covid vaccines, including the initial inflow of disinformation related to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. This year Covid-disinformation has modified and they are focused to different public health segments such as appeals for not applying other useful vaccines, pregnancy related disinformation, disinformation on drugs curing all sorts of illnesses, thereby assigning incorrect and alleged harmful features that are not recognized anywhere.
When referring to disinformation related to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the trend of importing disinformation from abroad continues. Almost without any exception, such disinformation serves to impose further action and enhance the well-known Kremlin narratives whose purpose is to justify injustice and the unprovoked aggression in Ukraine as well as to vindicate the failure of the Russian Armed Forces on the battlefield. The latest trend in this field that encourages local supporters of Kremlin in the country is the reintegration of imported disinformation and its adjustment to local context in order to undermine the pro-Western orientation of mainstream political forces in the country.
In addition, there is a tendency for the same entities that were spreading disinformation about the Covid pandemic last year, to appear disseminating disinformation about the war in Ukraine. This confirms the finding of the existence of a conspiracy, a cabal viewpoint in the world which is not such a small segment of national population worldwide that sees a large number of current affairs and events through the prism of a global conspiracy created by a small number of powerful people who are believed to control everything and are responsible for negative things happening around us.
The number of disinformation related to citizen’s lifestyle choices or their personal affiliation have also increased. Such disinformation is related to the so-called “culture wars”, for example, issues related to sexual education, termination of pregnancy, LGBTI population, especially the transgender persons etc. and used to maintain the current stigmas and prejudices and to build up hatred against these vulnerable groups. Lately, disinformation pertaining to these and other topics are used more frequently to attack the European Union and its institutions, above all to undermine the pro-European determination of the enormous majority of citizens in North Macedonia.
The new trend of fake sweepstakes on the social networks that abuse famous Macedonian and international brands to create fake pages and offer a large amount of attractive but imaginary rewards for the purpose of collecting citizen’s personal data is of particular concern. According to the estimates of the Metamorphosis Foundation, around tens of thousands of citizens have had their personal data stolen. One should not underestimate the potential danger of abusing these data even in political aims – in national political battles, but also by foreign actors for disseminating detrimental and undemocratic influence.
The brands of Metamorphosis Foundation – Truthmeter, Meta and Portalb – will continue to fight disinformation and harmful foreign undemocratic influence by using disinformation as part of the hybrid war, disinformation on political level by fact-checking statements given by politicians and abusing the truth for manipulations and political spins, monitoring the implementation of pre-election promises of political parties, including the fight against disinformation in the media and social networks.
EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
Among the events implemented on the occasion of 2 April, the Fact-Checking Week will include a series of activities directed towards the promotion of fact-checking.
Today (Monday – 3 April 2023) on TV21 in Albanian language, a debate on the topic of Disinformation as a threat to cyber-security will take place with the participation of Bardhyl Jashari, Executive Director of Metamorphosis Foundation, Shkelzen Osmani, founder of Hybrid.info from Kosovo and Klodiana Kapo, Executive Director of Faktoje.al.
4-5 April, Metamorphosis Foundation is organizing an international conference on the topic of “Digital Transformation for Citizens” that will take place in Hotel “Marriott” (Skopje) and can be followed online.
Wednesday, 5 April, at 10:00, within the framework of the conference a panel will be organized under the title How to build resistance against hybrid wars? that will focus on the cyber-attacks subverting the ICT-structure of the Government, the disinformation campaigns exploiting and deepening the current divisions, spreading fear among citizens and stirring distrust in democratic institutions etc. Speakers of the panel are: Ilija Zupanovski, Digital Communication Adviser to the President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, Aleksandar Acev, Head of National Centre for Computer Incident Response – MKD CIRT, Electronic Communication Agency and Merle Maigre, Programme Director of Cyber-Security at E-Governance Academy (Estonia).
6 April, in Tirana, Faktoje Center is organizing a regional conference as part of the Fact-Checking Week of the Western Balkans. The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Albania, Reinot Vos, will take part in the conference as well as representatives from the non-governmental sector, media and academy. The conference is organized in cooperation with the project Western Balkans Anti Disinformation Hub, implemented by Metamorphosis Foundation in partnership with Faktoje (Albania), International and Security Affairs Centre – ISAC (Serbia), Centre for Democratic Transition – CDT (Montenegro), Sbunker (Kosovo) and UGD Zašto ne/Why Not (Bosnia and Herzegovina) supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
On a wider international level, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) is organizing two online panels – on Monday (3 April) on the topic Legal Challenges and International Fact-Checking Legislation and on Tuesday (4 April) on the topic Fact-Checking in Times of Crisis. More information and application for attendance can be found here.