Activists debunk war-torn Syria’s fake news


-The France 24 observer

BEIRUT: Old images, fiction films and even video games have all been used to spread fake news stories in war-torn Syria — creating all the more work for a media collective debunking them.

Protests broke out against Syria’s regime in 2011 and then spun into violent conflict. All along, there has been a continuous stream of fabricated “news”, helped by the rapid-fire reach of social media.

To bring clarity and truth to an increasingly complex war, 32-year-old activist and journalist Ahmad Primo founded Verify-sy, an electronic platform that monitors and fact-checks stories about the conflict.

“As reporters, journalists, and activists, we’ve got a responsibility,” Primo tells AFP.

“What’s happening today will be written down as history, and we don’t want it to be fake history.”

Years ago, Primo took part in protests in the northern city of Aleppo and worked at a website that published news about the popular movement.

After being arrested three times by government forces, he moved to rebel-held territory in northern Syria before eventually leaving for Turkey.

“I was arrested for publishing the truth about what’s happening (in regime territory), and when I moved to opposition areas, I noticed they tamper with the truth, too,” says Primo.

“My reaction was that I can’t be quiet until we finish with these oppressors — and there are many oppressors now in Syria.”

In Syria, fake news is nothing new, says Primo.

Before President Bashar al-Assad, “we were raised on the idea that (his father, president) Hafez al-Assad was forever. But then he died. So what does ‘forever’ mean?” -AFP