The National Media Council, NMC, of United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Facebook have teamed to pool their respective resources in an effort to combat the proliferation of false news.
A joint campaign will commence in UAE newspapers and on Facebook starting on April 23. The newspaper advertisements have been designed to educate the public on how they can assess the credibility of "news" information they are reading on social media.
Additionally, a tool will appear at the top of the Facebook News Feed for a few days to people in the UAE. When people click on this educational tool, they will see more information and resources in the Facebook Help Centre.
This includes tips on how to spot false news, such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source and looking for other reports on the topic.
"The issue of false news is one that has increased in prominence with the explosion in use of social media in recent years. False news can have a political dimension where one party posts false information designed to damage another party, or it can have a financial dimension, with sensationalist or misleading material being deliberately posted. It could also be combination of elements, but the bottom line is always the same – the truth suffers. People end up believing falsehoods, which can have serious consequences on a personal as well as societal level," said Mansoor Al Mansoori, Director-General of NMC.
Al Mansoori stressed that the NMC is at the forefront of protecting news consumers from being fed lies and disingenuous information through its regulatory function that constantly reviews and evaluates the UAE's media landscape, setting standards to ensure high quality news.
He also stressed that the country's strong electronic media regulation act as a deterrent to those within the UAE who might otherwise consider posting deliberately misleading information on online sites.
"The NMC works hand in hand with other UAE federal agencies and the media sector to protect society and to ensure a happy and secure environment for all of the country's citizens and residents.
Teaming up with Facebook represents one of the tools to tackle those from outside the UAE who wish to post falsehoods that undermine community cohesion," he added.
Nashwa Aly, Head of Public Policy, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at Facebook, said, "Protecting our community is more important than profitability, which is why we are making significant investments in people and technology. And because these challenges go beyond Facebook, we are working with governments to tackle some of these most difficult problems. Keeping people informed and curbing the spread of trends like false news on our platforms is our goal. Through our work with the NMC, we aim to raise awareness so that people can make more informed decisions when they are reading and encounter things like false news on Facebook."