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How misinformation spreads online before finding its way in the traditional media.


In the run-up to its adoption conference on 10 December, we are likely to see a lot of misinformation about the Global Compact for Migration agreement, both online and in the traditional media.



On 10 December, UN member states are due to adopt the new Global Compact for Migration — a non-binding agreement which endorses the principle that governments should stop funding media that fuel racism & xenophobia.

Objective 17 of the Global Compact for Migration is the key bit that relates to the media. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but here’s what it says:

Global Compact for Migration

“We commit to eliminate all forms of discrimination, condemn and counter expressions, acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, violence, xenophobia and related intolerance against all migrants in conformity with international human rights law...”

“We further commit to promote an open and evidence-based public discourse on migration and migrants in partnership with all parts of society, that generates a more realistic, humane and constructive perception in this regard...”

“We also commit to protect freedom of expression in accordance with international law, recognizing that an open and free debate contributes to a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of migration.”

The Global Compact for Migration then lists a number of measures for tackling xenophobia.

These include enacting legislation penalising hate crimes, and holding hate crime perpetrators to account “in accordance with national legislation, while upholding international human rights law, in particular the right to freedom of expression.”

Objective 17 of the Global Compact for Migration also endorses the principle of “investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising.”

... and also “stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants, in full respect for the freedom of the media.”

It is worth spelling out the detail of what the Global Compact for Migration actually says because this is how the Daily Express has chosen to present it to their readers last weekend:

The Global Compact for Migration is a non-binding agreement — and repeatedly references the need to tackle racism and hate while respecting freedom of expression. Yet, the Daily Express tells its readers the Global Compact for Migration “could see people who criticise EU migration policies jailed.”

The Daily Express also suggests that the Global Compact for Migration “makes immigration a universal human right.”

What the Express does not tell its readers is that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations almost 70 years ago, already recognises that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

This weekend’s story in the Daily Express about the Global Compact for Migration comes after a sustained campaign by extremists pushing out messaging like this online:

Twitter
Twitter
Twitter
YouTube

In the run-up to the Global Compact for Migration adoption conference on 10 December, it is likely that we will see a lot more misinformation about the agreement — both online and in the established media.

The fact that the UN texts tend to be long, detailed and (let’s be honest) a bit boring to read all the way through means it can be easy for people to get away with misrepresenting what the Global Compact for Migration actually says...

Some things you can do if you want to help counter the misinformation:

- Firstly, when you see people making dodgy claims about the Global Compact for Migration, give them this link and ask which bit of the text, specifically, backs up those claims: http://bit.ly/GlobalCompactForMigration;

- Secondly, ask if they really believe that taxpayers should be obliged to subsidise racist media outlets through the public purse;

- Thirdly, highlight the track record of the media outlets who misrepresent the Global Compact for Migration. In 2015, the Daily Express was called out by the UN in a statement condemning “decades of... anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion.”

There have been some big changes at the Daily Express since they changed their editor and admitted that their paper had previously fuelled “Islamophobic sentiment”, so it is disappointing to see them misrepresenting migration-related issues now...

But given their history, perhaps it is unsurprising that the Daily Express would have concerns about an agreement that seeks to promote “evidence-based public discourse” on migration, and switch funding away from media outlets which fuel xenophobia...

More on Stop Funding Hate’s engagement with the UN ahead of the creation of the Global Compact for Migration.

With over £425bn spent worldwide each year on advertising, this agreement could be another vital step towards making hate unprofitable for good.

And here is another interesting thing: The video cited by the Daily Express to source its claims about the Global Compact for Migration is being repeatedly circulated on Twitter. Here is an example:

Twitter

This example also features a link to a petition on the UK Parliament website calling on the UK Government to pull out of the Global Compact for Migration.

Parliament.uk

But interestingly, the (user-generated) text of the petition on the UK Parliament website gives little background or context.

From looking at the petition you would have no idea that these are the kinds of messages being used to drive signatures:

Twitter
Twitter
A UKIP member of the London Assembly has actually signed and shared the petition. / Twitter


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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article, with the author’s conscent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)


(Cover: Pixabay.)


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