Japanese media band together to fight fake news ahead of election

Media researchers and journalists are stepping up efforts to identify dubious information on the Internet to stop the spread of fake news that might affect voters.
Media researchers and journalists are stepping up efforts to identify dubious information on the Internet to stop the spread of fake news that might affect voters.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO - Media professionals in Japan have come together to fight fake news on the Internet related to the upcoming election.

Media researchers and journalists are stepping up efforts to identify dubious information on the Internet to stop the spread of fake news that might affect voters, according to Kyodo News.

Fake news are typically social media stories that have incorrect, incomplete or misleading information. They have become a major issue in recent high-profile elections in Europe and the United States.

A project to identify fake news items related to Japan's election on Oct 22 has been launched on the website of the Japan Centre of Education for Journalist (JCEJ). It involves 19 media companies, including newspapers, television networks and online media.

So far, four news stories have been identified as fake, Kyodo News reported.

Students from the research team of associate professor Hiroyuki Fujishiro at Hosei University in Tokyo would go through social media for posts that are related to political parties and candidates.

Journalists from the media companies would then check the contents. If reporters from at least three media companies determine that a news story is fake, the JCEJ website will publicise the finding, Kyodo News reported.

Another group, called FactCheck Initiative Japan, is also doing the same thing. It involves five online media operators, including BuzzFeed Japan.

Meanwhile, the 70th National Newspaper Convention has adopted a resolution pledging that newspapers will "contribute to people living safely and with peace of mind", according to The Japan News.

The convention was hosted by the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association.

A roundtable discussion was held during the convention. It discussed the issues faced by the newspaper industry, including fake news.

"The most effective measure is to pursue journalism based on first-hand reporting," said a panellist at the discussion, as quoted by The Japan News.