Portalb.mk’s Editor-in-Chief Zylbeari: Fight against disinformation expands, we can counteract disinformation with coordinated actions

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As fact-checkers, we have faced many attacks in our work, but that is our routine challenge. I wouldn’t like to forecast how the war against the disinformation will end, I just see it as a hybrid war and it will step up. However, with coordinated actions, we can become more resilient. We can start engaging everyone in the society, starting from the government, the media organizations; and the journalists themselves have to obey the professional standards and together we can create a front that will try to prevent this hybrid war with the disinformation, said Portalb.mk’s Editor-in-Chief, Elida Zylbeari in the sesion “The Rise of the Fact-Checking Movement” of the POINT conference in Sarajevo, informs Portalb.mk

Zylbeari spoke about the importance of the fight against the fake news, stressing that the fact-checking work is full of challenges and problems, because different actors constantly take various actions to misinform the people. She also explained how Metamorphosis Foundation has worked on counteracting this problem in the past decade.

“We started the fact-checking work 10 years ago, beginning with checking the promises made by the politicians, their lies, and we documented all of that, and we were very eager to monitor them continuously what they are saying and how they are talking. After a while, in 2012, we saw that it is not enough, since we live in times when a so-called regime was in power and ruled the country. These politicians and the government have captured all the state media and the Internet was the only available free space where we could work, in two languages, Albanian and Macedonian,” Zylbeari said.

Since the focus of Metamorphosis’ mission is the citizens and enabling them to make informed decision, be active and participate in the policy making, Zylbeari said that the citizens have to receive information – authentic, truthful and quality information, to enable them to make proper decisions.

Photo: Portalb.mk

“But the information, the messages that were arriving from the politicians, the authorities, were mere propaganda, disinformation and this is why in 2013 we began with the fact-checking service in Albanian and Macedonian, in order to check the facts in the content that was published in the media. We tried to control the content with a strict and transparent methodology that isn’t anything new and is based on the Journalists Code. It was important to be done both in Macedonian and Albanian language since, two different types of propaganda were being spread among these two different nationalities,” Zylbeari reminisces.

Even that wasn’t enough, she said, since the influence and the misinformation arriving from abroad had become even more present and have had a goal to polarize the society even more. This is why, Zylbeari explained, Metamorphosis is now working in even more languages in order to deal with the disinformation.

“This is why we are working in different languages, such as Bulgarian, Greek, Serbian, apart from Macedonian and Albanian, in order to be able to identify and map all of the players, the entire ecosystem of the propaganda disinformation, the Kremlin’s propaganda, and we are trying to investigate everything and to prove that all of this is a tendency,” Zylbeari said.

Among other issues, she stressed that Metamorphosis’ latest research provides all of the recommendations for all of the concerned sides and the contribution they should make in this hybrid war.

At the panel discussions she was joined by Angie Dronbic Holan – PolitiFact’s Editor in Chief; Milijana Rogich– journalist and media researcher at CRTA NGO from Serbia (Center for research, transparency, and accountability); Enock Nyariki – manager at the International fact-checking network (IFCN) and Ieva Ivanauskaitė – Head of the business development at Delfi – the biggest online journalist organization in the Baltic states.

The POINT conference is organized by members of the ACTION SEE network, Metamorphosis Foundation being one of its members.

Apart from Zylbeari, Truthmeter’s Editor-in-Chief Vladimir Petreski also spoke at the conference.