Purveying Disinformation: What is Really Going?
Gianluca Mezzofiore is working with the so-called "opposition" to destabilize Eritrea through disinformation and slander in the media. Please report this anti-Eritrea activist posing as a journalist to the IPSO.
Purveying Disinformation: What is Really Going?
Ray Ja Fraser
Another day has brought about yet more far-fetched rumors and outlandish claims regarding Eritrea. This time, it was alleged that the Eritrean government plagiarized parts of its statement in response to the recent Commission of Inquiry (COI) report, essentially copying a statement from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (recall that while the COI report was widely covered by the mainstream press, and has led to a substantial amount of discussion regarding Eritrea, it has also come in for considerable criticism, with several detailed articles rebutting different parts of the report, available here: 1 , 2, 3, and 4).
As has become customary with coverage on Eritrea, the allegations of plagiarism were quickly spread across social media, accompanied by sensationalist or negative headlines. Again, much of the early dissemination was conducted by fake online accounts, generally referred to as “sock puppets.” This strategy focuses on artificially stimulating online buzz, while trying to make it appear to be a spontaneous, grassroots trend. Mass tweeting and retweeting of messages not only helps generate attention and spread (mis)information, it also cycles the information to a wider audience (e.g. as a “top tweet”). Increasingly, sock puppets and fake accounts have been utilized for political, marketing, propaganda, and military purposes. Notably, the employment of fake accounts using negative headlines or false rumors has been used against Eritrea in the past, most (in)famously during the January 2013 “Forto” incident (covered in detail here).
Then all of a sudden, amidst the laughing, snickering, and accusatory finger wagging, came the truth. The Eritrean government did not plagiarize the statement and, according to the United Nations (UN), they (the UN) had made the errors. Now ask yourself some basic questions. If you were an objective journalist or genuine human rights advocate, wouldn’t you clarify facts before penning and disseminating stories? If your report was found to be riddled with blatant, significant errors or contradictions, wouldn’t you rush to clarify or correct these? Whatever happened to truth, neutrality, honesty, authenticity, validity, factuality, professionalism, integrity, and other high-standing principles?
Instead, today’s false allegations, and the ongoing clichéd reports, rumors, and broader narrative on Eritrea display, in crystal clear view, the poor state of reporting and understanding about Eritrea, and they highlight many of the worst habits of journalism, media, academia, and activism.
More importantly however, the rumors underscore that the focus is not on human rights or humanitarianism but, as ever, is firmly set upon destabilization, disinformation, delegitimization, and ultimately, “pinning down Eritrea.” It is quite telling that the allegations of plagiarism originated from an “advocate” at the Human Rights Council (HRC), a journalist based in the United Kingdom, Gianluca Mezzofiore, and several individuals who have staunchly worked for aggressive regime change in Eritrea. These facts raise important questions. As a journalist, how objective can Mezzofiore be when he has been part of a team with an acknowledged mandate for regime-change in Eritrea (e.g. image 1)? Additionally, what is the exact involvement of the supposed HRC advocate; was the error-ridden document simply an editing mistake or was it a deliberate instance of diplomatic sabotage? Why did these individuals quickly (and apparently in coordinated fashion) focus on and disseminate an error-ridden document, when the original statement is and has been publically available for weeks? If serious allegations such as plagiarism can later be laughed-off as “simple errors”, what and how many other allegations may end-up similarly baseless? Will these many “questionable facts” and blatant inconsistencies be addressed or will they simply be labelled as the fanciful, far-reaching “conspiracy theories” of “regime sympathizers and trolls”?
Ultimately, this latest episode raises more critical questions and offers further damning evidence regarding the legitimacy and credibility of the original COI report and its entire process. With Eritrea’s continued economic growth and tangible, positive development outcomes, the country’s opponents and regime-change proponents know that the government will maintain the support of the vast majority of the population. In such a case, opponents’ only recourse is to attempt to destabilize the government in order to prompt foreign intervention or domestic unrest. Simply, as Eritrea continues to swim and not sink, expect to see more disinformation…don’t fall for it!
Purveying Disinformation: What is Really Going? Reviewed by Admin on 12:17 PM Rating: