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Unmasking False News: A Conversation with Yury Mosha, Organizer of the “Stop Fake News” Portal

Unmasking False News: A Conversation with Yury Mosha, Organizer of the "Stop Fake News" Portal
Photo Credit To: E-PR Online Digital Media Agency

In an era flooded with information, discerning authentic facts from skillfully fabricated content designed for propaganda, deceit, or slander poses a considerable challenge. We engaged in a dialogue about the issue of fake news in the digital realm, particularly prevalent in the United States, with Yury Mosha, one of the driving forces behind the “Stop Fake News” portal.

The relevance of fake news is more pertinent than ever today. What prompts the rapid surge of false information across the internet?

Amidst our intricate times, distinguishing falsehoods from truths often eludes people. Even respected, authoritative media outlets occasionally circulate fake news. In essence, fake content can be categorized into two groups. The first involves intentionally forged news engineered to manipulate and propagate. The second category encompasses unchecked data, published due to the inexperience or incompetence of internet resource owners, masquerading as truth. Regardless, the volume of false information is on an upward trajectory.

Ironically, most individuals tend to believe what they encounter on the web. With the freedom for anyone to establish websites and disseminate content, the challenge intensifies. Media regulations differ from one country to another. In the US, where fake news and misleading articles see the most substantial growth, effective measures to counter such activities are virtually non-existent. Penalizing those responsible for such content is an arduous task.

What drives the inception of the “Stop Fake News” resource?

At its core, “Stop Fake News” aims to monitor and document websites propagating fake news. By analyzing multiple parameters, our experts identify sites intentionally spreading false information and catalog them on the portal.

How does the catalog of Fake News sites on the website come together?

On the primary page of “Stop Fake News,” we’ve outlined 13 parameters that can help determine whether a specific resource qualifies as a Fake News site. These parameters encompass attributes like naming conventions, publication frequency, ownership details, and the portal’s longevity. For instance, if all articles on a news platform are written in a similar style, published within a brief time frame, and lack proper editing, it’s prudent to question the accuracy of the content.

The compilation of the fake site register holds immense value. It parallels registries of counterfeit drugs or plagiarized dissertations. Consulting the Fake News catalog enables people to ascertain whether a given site falls within the realm of unreliable sources and shields them from misleading information.

The “Stop Fake News” project was initiated by the Committee for Protection against Defamation, Discrimination, and Persecution on the Internet. Could you shed light on the organization’s undertakings?

Originally, the Committee was formed to revise US legislation pertaining to regulating online activities. Despite the US being hailed as the “birthplace” of the internet, its laws governing this domain significantly lag behind those of the European Union.

In today’s context, interactions among internet resources in the US are governed by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, enacted by the US Congress in 1996. This section stipulates that search services are not liable for the information they index. In essence, anyone can duplicate a renowned news source, register a domain with a semblance of the original name, disseminate false news, and search engines will index them. Often, individuals are unaware they are reading articles from skillfully replicated third-party resources rather than The Washington Post or The New York Times.

To address this form of deceit, individuals targeted by false information must resort to legal proceedings. These proceedings can stretch over several years, and only after a court ruling can indexing of a specific site be restricted. An instance is a globally recognized New York Times journalist who read an article claiming her demise. For an extended period, she endeavored to have Google remove the erroneous content. Only when the CEO of Google read her article on the violation did the text get withdrawn from search results.

The issue of unreliable information and online harassment is notably acute in the US. Cases abound where individuals ended their lives without obtaining justice. This prompted the Committee to work on amending laws to enable swift removal of false information from search engine results on established search platforms, sidestepping protracted and costly legal procedures. A program outlining the Committee’s work was presented to Congress, with some members endorsing it. Regrettably, the law remains unchanged.

Despite encountering obstacles, the Committee remains optimistic about reshaping regulations concerning fake news in the US. Following the 2024 presidential elections, they intend to persist in this direction. Time marches on, and present circumstances necessitate proactive actions from authorities.

Can individuals shield themselves from false information?

The “Stop Fake News” website provides an exhaustive guide outlining criteria for individuals to independently identify websites disseminating false information. Anyone can submit the address of a site believed to spread fake content, and the portal’s team will review it. Upon validation, the site will be added to the catalog.

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