In this week’s UpFront, we ask Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales about the fake news phenomenon, and the role Russian interference and tech giants played in Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential election.
And in a special interview, we speak with the activist known as the “Palestinian Gandhi” about his impending military trial.
Headliner: Can Jimmy Wales “fix the news”?
In an era of Donald Trump, fake news and propaganda, tech giants such as Google and Facebook are struggling to find an effective way to stop the spread of disinformation.
For this week’s Headliner, we examine this issue with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who says he has the solution. Wales is launching his own news outlet, WikiTribune, which aims to combat fake news by combining the work of professional journalists and volunteers.
“Yes, I do,” said Wales, when asked if he believes that fake news posed a grave threat to democracy.
“I think it’s a fairly serious problem and it’s a broader problem than just what I would call pure fake news,” he added. “There’s also the broader problem of a rise of relatively low-quality media which is competing with the more traditional, more respectable media in a really aggressive way for clicks and ad revenue and so forth, which is really putting a lot more pressure on journalism than it has already experienced.”
On the subject of Russian interference during the US presidential election, Wales commented on their use of Facebook and Google to publish political ads and target voters with misinformation.
“I think it does appear to have played a significant role,” he said.
“The Russian influence that has been uncovered so far indicates a fairly high level of sophistication. This wasn’t as simple as simply paying for ads that said Donald Trump is great, it was really more about very complex strategies of voter suppression.”
Special Interview: Can nonviolence end the Israeli occupation?
Issa Amro has been dubbed by some “the Palestinian Gandhi”. A prominent human rights activist in the occupied West Bank, who’s been recognised by both the European Union and the United Nations, he has been a tireless advocate for nonviolent resistance.
Rather than being embraced by political leaders on both sides, in September Palestinian security forces arrested him for a post on Facebook in which he criticised the Palestinian Authority for arresting a journalist.
Amro is also awaiting trial in an Israeli military court for a series of charges, dismissed by international rights groups as baseless.
For this week’s special interview, we ask Issa Amro, the cofounder of Youth Against Settlements, about the resistance movement and his upcoming military trial.
Asked by host Mehdi Hasan whether he was willing to go to prison for his message to be heard, Amro replied that there is “no change without a price…and sacrifice.”
“I don’t want to go to prison. And I don’t think we have any Palestinian who wants to go to prison. On the contrary, we want freedom, and we want justice. But, it’s part of my struggle. Part of my struggle to teach the international community who is asking us day and night to do a non-violence resistance,” said Amro.