Tech-savvy activists debunk fake news engulfing Iraq protest

Iraq's protests sending tech-savvy youth into debunking overdrive

Reuters October 26, 2019
PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD:

From accusations long-dead soldiers shot protesters to militant statements backing the rallies, fabricated news has swirled around Iraq's protests -- sending tech-savvy youth into debunking overdrive.


While their compatriots hit the streets in anti-government rallies, dozens of anonymous activists from Iraqi NGO Tech 4 Peace hunker over laptops, using virtual private networks to circumvent a social media ban.


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Those in Iraq coordinate with fellow activists across the Arab world, Europe and even North America to discern the real from the ridiculous.


Did the Islamic State group really call for demonstrations? No -- that's a fake statement, writes Tech 4 Peace on its popular Facebook page.


Was a young protester shot dead this morning? No, his friends confirm he's still alive.


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Did the family of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein back the rallies? Another no.


One of the most common forms of fallacy spread online is the misidentification of security personnel who shot at protesters, said a Tech 4 Peace verifier identifying himself as Sami.


"Pictures of people accused of killing demonstrators have been circulating for days," Sami told AFP.


They included photographs of Iraqi soldiers who had, in fact, died fighting the Islamic State group several years ago.


"We've also debunked dozens of claims of people accused of being jihadists, with their names and photographs circulated online, who have nothing to do with terrorism," he added.


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