At UNESCO conference, Birzeit media specialist discusses need for fact-checking platforms 

Saleh Masharqeh, research and studies coordinator at Birzeit University’s Media Development Center, highlighted the role of fact-checking media platforms in fighting fake news and disinformation in a recent paper presented at “Information and Communication in the Digital Age,” the Fourth International Conference organized by the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. 

The conference brought together academics and experts from 37 countries worldwide to address digital transformations and the advent of social media, enabling the viral spread of disinformation and misinformation. 

In his research paper, Masharqeh discussed the importance of media-monitoring and fact-checking platforms in countering fake news widely spread in the current digital era. These platforms, argued Masharqeh, are part of the media education process and a key tool in the fight against fake news. 

Media monitoring platforms can manage the flow of information, he added. Establishing online monitors to track the credibility of news content and using fact-checking methods, explained Masharqeh, are the main sources of a proper media education to ensure credibility, information quality and transparency. 

Masharqeh pointed out four local and regional media monitoring platforms, such as MISBAR, Akeed, France Press and Kashif, all of which aim to spread accuracy and honesty in news media and social networks.  

Masharqeh’s paper emphasized the role of such platforms in raising awareness of the consequences of fake news, commercial apps and services created to sell fake information and disinformation. The algorithms of such apps and services are designed to funnel people into social groups and filter bubbles that risk distorting reality and suppressing contrarian views, which often have a hand in manipulating their emotions and disconnecting them from the real world. The creation and spread of false information—especially through social media, according to Masharqeh—impacts society and manipulates people’s behavior. 

Politically, Masharqeh explained how fact-checking monitors play an important role during elections, especially in countering misinformation that distorts political process and hinders people from making reasonable voting decisions. 

Masharqeh concluded his presentation by reaffirming the vital role that fact-checking platforms play in investigating and verifying facts in media. These platforms, according to Masharqeh, should be better supported, as they contribute in media and media education. He also called on universities to integrate fact-checking and investigation classes along with their media and journalism courses.