Sunday, 4 October 2020

Croatia to Get Museum of Fake News

ZAGREB, October 4, 2020 - This month Croatia will get a Museum of Fake News, which in its first phase will operate as a website providing testimonies from journalists and scientists, a database of fake news, and tools for promoting media literacy and critical thinking and for recognising and fighting against fake news.

The project has been initiated by Lordan Prelog, a former journalist and editor and now a PhD student at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. He said that the project is also a contribution to the global fight against disinformation, which is a big threat to democracy and the development of open societies.

According to him, the most efficient way to fight against fake news is to further develop quality, responsible fact-based journalism and to raise public awareness of the dangers and spread of fake news.

He added that the Museum of Fake News project was a result of years of work of the Institute for New Media and E-democracy (InMed), the only Croatian association that is a member of the Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis (SOMA), one of the leading networks of institutions dealing with detecting fake news and models of its dissemination.

One of the most precise definitions of fake news is that is it the deliberate creation and sharing of fake and/or manipulated news with the intent to mislead the public and to do harm for political or personal reasons or for material gain, Prelog said.

He said his plan was to gather as many testimonies as possible from well-known journalists and other media experts who had come across disinformation in their work.

According to him, the term "disinformation" is much more precise than the neologism "fake news", which was popularised after the 2016 US presidential election by US president Donald Trump, known for false claims, conspiracy theories and vulgar insults.

The Museum of Fake News is not a commercial project, and in its initial phase it will consist of a website where all interested members of the public, especially young people, will be able to get information on the phenomenon of disinformation in Croatia and the world, he said.

He added that disinformation had a much greater reach than regular news and that there was no quick and effective strategy in the fight against fake news.

"There is no simple solution, it is necessary to work on developing citizens' critical thinking. The trust in the media and state institutions can be restored through professional and above all ethical practice of journalism and, of course, by developing media literacy across society," Prelog said.

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Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Government Condemns Publication of Fake Photos of Agriculture Minister

ZAGREB, January 22, 2019 - The Croatian government on Tuesday condemned in the strongest terms the publication of photos purportedly depicting Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić in a defamatory situation, describing them as perfidious and illegal hoax meant to discredit top state officials.

The government expects the law-enforcement and prosecutorial authorities to investigate this case and find the perpetrators of "yet another extremely insidious attempt to destabilise the government and the legal order."

The Nacional weekly published on Tuesday an article with the headline "A whore, cocaine in professional set-up against Tomislav Tolušić", and the article is accompanied by the fake photos aimed at discrediting the minister.

The weekly newspaper has said that it has obtained the disputable photos from an anonymous source.

The Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA), which has also got the photos in the meantime, established that they are fabrications, the newspaper said.

The case prompted the government to issue a press release in which it condemns in the strongest terms the appearance of fake photos as perfidious and illegal hoax aimed at discrediting top state officials.

The government expects the police and the Office of Chief State Prosecutor to investigate the case and find the perpetrators of this insidious attempt to destabilise the government and to affect the legal order through the dissemination of fabricated information against state office-holders.

More news on the agriculture minister can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Fake News Spreading Anti-Migrant Hysteria

Two alleged migrants which an elderly lady “caught” in a Samobor store recently were actually employees of the Rimac Automobili company, where they worked with a residence and a work permit. Samobor Mayor Krešo Beljak denied the fake news being spread on the social networks that the Samobor region is besieged by migrant groups, reports Jutarnji List on November 8, 2018.

The fear of unknown and increasingly unwanted migrants from the east has turned into a hysteria in the last several days. Everything started with migrant protests and the blockade of the Maljevac border crossing. Although more than 6,000 migrants have passed through Croatia to Slovenia in recent months, the only criminal offenses they committed in the Karlovac area are breaking and entry into abandoned houses in search of a shelter (with the exception of one attempted attack on a policeman). However, on social networks, Croatian women are warned not to wear short shirts because they will allegedly be raped and their partners slaughtered.

One woman reported the news that near the Plitvice Lakes National Park six migrants raped a 13-year-old girl, which was allegedly told her by a waitress in Slunj. However, the news is completely false.

There are also no serious criminal offenses in the Una-Sana Canton in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina where the largest Balkan migrant hot spot is located. The vast majority of the 300 criminal offenses which were committed by migrants there refer to property crimes. There were one murder and one rape, but both of these terrible offenses were committed by the same man, an Algerian, and in both cases, the victims were other migrants.

With the blockade of the border in the Karlovac region, migrants are turning to the south in an attempt to reach Slovenia, seeking a softer border to enter Croatia. This is why a new route is being created through Croatia, going from Lika and to Gorski Kotar.

Local media reported that two migrants have entered the centre of Gospić and also published statements by anxious citizens of Lika. In the village of Kosa, a report allegedly found a person who has discovered 12 migrants, “but has refused to speak on the record due to the fear.”

The police are trying to calm down the tensions by issuing statements, but they have no effect. The locals have a hard time realising that the two Afghans whom they saw walking in Gospić entered Croatia legally and stayed in a local hotel for several days because they came to visit their cousin, a migrant smuggler, who was arrested and is now in prison.

Tomislav J. from Otočac almost ended up as the main story in the national news when he wanted to describe how a group of migrants had beaten him, but it turned out that he was drunk and came up with the story to explain to his employer why he was late for work. The police have said that they have reported him for “spreading fake news which disturbs the peace of citizens.” This is the first such report resulting from the migrant crisis hysteria.

According to the information of the Lika police, they have registered 228 illegal migrants and arrested some 30 smugglers. There has been no increase in the number of thefts. In fact, this year there has been only 333 thefts committed, which is 146 fewer than in the same period last year. There is just one case linked to migrants; an Algerian stole a bicycle in Korenica.

However, the fake news continues.

For more on the migrant crisis, click here.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Mario Pušić).