“False information spread via social networks, websites, newspapers, TV channels and radio stations triggers processes that cannot be managed,” says Denis Tyurin, director of the SCO Business Club. “Its impact on political and economic processes is almost impossible to predict. Disclosure of insider information can influence stock market prices, bring capitalization of big companies down by billions of dollars, have effect on entire industries. This topic becomes especially relevant when countries declare information wars on each other.”
Fabricated news stories have become a serious problem of the present day. Broad penetration of the Internet has not just increased the variety of available information, but resulted in spread of fake stories on an unprecedented scale. The technology of circulating information has changed in recent years. Therefore, it has become important to master the tools and methods for checking its reliability. Today, fake news stories have turned into a weapon of information wars whose danger should not be underestimated.
Google, Facebook and other technological giants are looking for mechanisms to restrict spread of false stories, and also prejudiced ones. Given the currently available technology, the process of checking news items is quite labor-intensive.
In Russia, the national Youth Public Chamber initiated research of the problem. A website, Vbrosam.net, was created to fight fake news. Leaders of the project believe that checking information should be responsibility of both mass media and society.
The website has become a tool for collecting public opinions on the believability of various mass media. Its idea is to create an anti-ranking of publications spreading fake news depending on the number of bogus stories they publish. The project is based on the cross-checking technology, which allows readers of news sites to complain about reports that, in their opinion, contain unreliable or false information. Users’ voting identifies websites that are leaders for misinforming their readers.
The website’s visitors may see the ratings of unreliable information and publications abusing the trust of their readers. In addition, everyone can participate in a vote or suggest other new items he/she considers fake.
The unreliability rating is not created by the website’s editors, but is based on users’ votes. There are rankings for “today,” “past week,” and “past month.” Editors engage leading experts to comment on fake stories that have received the biggest number of users’ votes. Among the website’s experts are well-known Russian scientists, political, social and military experts, economists and lawyers. The website has accounts in the social networks VKontakte, Twitter and Facebook.
In July 2018, Johannesburg hosted a meeting of BRICS countries that was devoted to information problems, where the Russian delegation made a presentation on misinformation and fight against fabricated news.
“We prepared a special presentation showing how Russia, having found itself in the midst of a mud-slinging campaign, counteracts it. This is not just an issue for foreign-policy agencies, it is a blow dealt against the entire society,” said Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The action group of Vbrosam.net calls for the SCO and BRICS countries to fight against fake news. It has been proposed to use the project as the basis for setting up an international information center for preventing spread of fabricated news with support from leading mass media of the SCO and BRICS member states.