From: The Listening Post

Online deception and the Arab Spring

We look at how difficult it is for journalists to verify information in a country they are locked out of.

On Listening Post this week: Online hoaxes and the dilemma for journalists trying to cover the Arab uprisings. And Rwanda’s media 17 years after the genocide.

When it emerged that a gay, female blogger had been detained in Syria, the story drew massive interest online and was quickly carried by the mainstream media. Activists were outraged and there were vociferous calls for the release of the blogger, Amina Abdallah. But when the pictures on her blog turned out to be fake, the story quickly started to unravel. Soon journalists realised that no one had ever actually met Abdallah or even spoken to her and questions were raised as to whether she even existed. Those suspicions were confirmed when the blogger behind A Gay Girl in Damascus turned out to be a straight man in Scotland. Our News Divide this week looks at this case of online deception and how difficult it is for journalists to verify information in a country they are locked out of.
In News Bytes this week: Suspected Anonymous activists arrested in Turkey and Spain; a prominent Indian crime reporter is gunned down in Mumbai; Bahrain sues a British newspaper for what it calls ‘defamatory’ coverage; after 40 years, the Pentagon Papers are finally released; and South Africa’s best-known political cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro, takes on President Jacob Zuma, again.

Seventeen years ago ethnic tension in the small East African country of Rwanda boiled over into one of the bloodiest genocides the world had ever seen. Approximately 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in around 100 days. What helped to trigger those events was the hate speech broadcast on Rwandan airwaves, by one station in particular – Radio Mille Collines. Fast-forward to 2011 and Rwandan journalists are still burdened with that legacy. Their government still uses the media’s complicity in 1994 as justification for its restrictive and punitive media laws and governments across the continent use what happened in Rwanda to clampdown on their own media. Listening Post’s Nick Muirhead looks at the Rwandan media landscape and how the sins of the past still haunt it today.

Our Internet Video of the Week is a hilarious anthropological case study. A lot of us change our behaviour when we go online, but imagine behaving in the real world the way you do on sites like Facebook and Twitter. A comedian from the UK did exactly that to promote a new opera in the West End of London and it resulted in him looking like some kind of off-line weirdo. We hope you enjoy the show.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.