The Media Today

The media today: Fake news goes global

August 7, 2017

As votes near in Kenya and Germany, concerns over fake news have taken center stage. With Kenyans headed to the polls tomorrow in a closely contested race that pits current President Uhuru Kenyatta against former prime minister Raila Odinga, The New York Times’s Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura reports that allegations of fake news have added to fears that the country will again see post-election bloodshed

After a disputed 2007 election resulted in a victory for Kenyatta, widespread violence left more than 1,000 Kenyans dead. Freytas-Tamura writes that in the past week, a senior election official was found murdered, and there was a break-in at the estate of the vice president. Kenyans have also seen demonstrably false or unverified stories about vote-rigging and planned violence. “There is an ecosystem of fake news around this election,” Freytas-Tamura quotes Alphonce Shiundu, editor of Africa Check, a fact-checking organization saying. “Kenyans really don’t know what the truth is.”

Fake news is also a hot topic in Germany, where a September election will determine the leadership of Europe’s largest economy. Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to maintain her position, but her government is bracing for a flood of embarrassing leaks and cyberattacks aimed at damaging her standing and sowing seeds of distrust in the political process

At the center of those concerns is the specter of Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader is no fan of Merkel’s, as the German Chancellor has been one of the strongest global advocates pushing a hard line against Moscow. In Berlin, The Washington Times’s Guy Taylor writes that “there is little question that a Kremlin-backed subversion campaign is already well underway.

Below, more on the fear of fake news and the efforts to combat it.


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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.