Following the Russia-Ukraine war that saw the forceful invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the social media feeds have been filled with different posts concerning the war. While some of the posts are real from credible sources, many more are considered to be fake news. Following the rise of fake news being peddled on the media as regards the war, American multinational technology company Google, recently disclosed their plan to roll out new features that enhance access to trusted information, as well as rolling out $10 million to address fake news that is being spread about the realities and facts of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Google via its blog post disclosed that it will partner with think tanks and civil society organizations to conduct region-specific research into misinformation and disinformation, as well as giving out cash grants to support fact-checking networks and non-profits. Through Jigsaw, a unit within Google that builds technology to counter threats to open societies, the tech disclosed that it will partner with local experts and academics to develop approaches to both directly counter-information and help people more easily identify disinformation.
According to Google, in its words, “As an information company, we take our responsibility seriously to provide reliable, trustworthy information to people when they need it. We saw how many Ukrainians turned to search to find up-to-date information, including where to find shelter or humanitarian aid, and relied on air raid alerts on their phones. To help, we are also rolling out new features that enhance access to trusted information, including info panels in local languages and transparency labels for publisher content on Youtube”.
Join Tekedia Capital Syndicate and invest in Africa’s finest startups here.
Tekedia Mini-MBA (June 5 – Sept 2 2023) begins June 5; beat early registration deadline of June 1 for BIG discounts by registering here.
This is a laudable step taken by Google to help combat the spread of fake news on the Russia-Ukraine War. It is interesting to note that Google is not the only tech company that has taken this step, as other tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google-owned- Youtube have also taken steps to stop the spread of fake news concerning the Russia-Ukraine war. Since the inception of the war, a lot of internet users have been exposed to so much information (fake and real) about the war, and one must understand that such information plays a significant role in the war. Misinformation and the spread of fake news are not alien to warfare, as it is impossible not to have fake news peddled during war.
Misinformation is also a commonly used tactic by warring nations as part of propaganda campaigns, which are often used to deceive their opposition into making wrong decisions. According to sources, in the early period of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Kremlin media made false claims about the Ukrainian military fleeing from the battlefield, which was untrue. It was later revealed that such false claims were aimed at crushing the Ukrainian resolve in a bid to spark patriotism on the Russian home front.
As someone who has been keeping tabs on the war since it began, I have often come across posts in the media where it was revealed that the Ukrainian military killed the Russian military in mass. I found such posts hard to believe because it is a known fact, how formidable the Russian military is in times of war, and how Ukraine was considered to be the underdog. I also came across a post about how the Ukrainian military men were ruthlessly killed by the Russian armies. Such contradicting posts made me understand that supporters of both warring sides were posting false pictures and videos to suit their claims.
What people must understand is that the spread of fake news about a war creates a large amount of uncertainty about the real situation on ground. People in these war-torn areas are often misled by what they read in the media, which often affects their decision-making process. According to information obtained, it was revealed that military men from both countries did not go to the war with their cellphones to avoid their location from being tracked. What this implies is that there will be little information coming from the war front, which also means that there will be less circulation of images and videos from the war front, except for the few ones shared by journalists.
Some people, out of their mischievous desire, go ahead to dig up old pictures and videos that are in no way related to the war, attributing it to the Russia-Ukraine war. For example, there was a video that trended online where a Ukrainian girl was seen confronting a Russian soldier. After much investigation, it was discovered that the video was not related to the Russian-Ukraine war, rather it was a video of a Palestinian girl confronting an Israeli soldier.
In warfare, misinformation and the spread of fake news are always evident, whether intentional or not, and the main and widely used channel for spreading such news is social media. It is indeed a commendable approach for the tech giants that have swung into action in ensuring that they eradicate fake news on their platforms concerning the war, as such news can incite negative actions, and also create a biased view of the war contrary to the actual issue.