Qatari university says it has solution to ‘Fake News’

Academic in Saudi Arabia, however, insists that Doha is part of the problem

Fake news [Illustrative] (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Fake news [Illustrative]
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University says it has developed a software program that is able to evaluate and determine whether news stories are factual or fake.
The program checks several factors, including whether the story has an emotional or subjective style, whether it contains contradictions or attempts to impose an opinion, and how its headline is related to the rest of the story.
While the program can currently analyze Arabic and English media, the university says it is working to expand to other languages.
Saleh Ghareeb, a Qatari writer and political analyst, told The Media Line that work on the program began “after the piracy of the Qatari News Agency in 2017 and the broadcast of fabricated content about Qatar’s prince.”
Ghareeb said that although the Qatari News Agency, the Qatari Foreign Ministry and the government news office all announced that the agency’s website had been hacked, several countries imposed a boycott on Doha.
“These countries ignored the Qatari government’s clarification and started broadcasting and analyzing the prince’s statements as if he had actually said them,” he said.
As a result, he continued, the university came up with its program to prevent the broadcast of false and fake news.
Ghareeb also pointed out that some media outlets rely on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Telegram as news sources – which they are not.
“Even newspapers are relying on these platforms for content,” he explained. “The importance of the program is to help prevent fabrications from being presented as facts.”
Khaled Batarfi, a professor of communication at Saudi Arabia’s Alfaisal University, is less enthusiastic the program’s launch, claiming that Qatar has “a long history of producing fake news” and propaganda.
“Qatari media outlets publish lies and fake news regarding Saudi Arabia and the Houthis,” he told The Media Line, referring to Iran’s proxy in Yemen.
Doha is an ally of Tehran, and Riyadh has been leading the fight against the Houthis in order to restore the government of Yemen’s president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Batarfi said that Qatar is “trying to show the world that it is being targeted and is under attack” by campaigns of fake news.
“It’s the usual Qatari grievance speech, which it learned from Iran,” he added.
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