Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Media, Misinformation & Scandal

Misinformation & scandal are connected in that partial truth often leads to later disclosure of information which erupts as scandal. Often, privacy must be compromised to get at the truth of a scandal, which boosts ratings. During a scandal, misinformation can become the focus of media, continually updating the latest truth.

Silvio Berlusconi, continually negotiating misinformation and scandal

In Strategy of Deception, Paul Virilio writes that it is not media but political figures that are the creators of limited and/or misinformation. "We can see then that the current legal caviling is merely a smokescreen – disinformation on an industrial scale." Virilio continues that it is already difficult to distinguish true from false online and also still a lawless place where criminals can invade power systems. Virilio also discusses the role of information jamming, the practice of blocking communication through destruction of satellites or website interference. It is different from hacking into systems and information warfare which is strategically placed media.

Information Rights: Italian Wiretapping Scandal
Wiretapping is a direct invasion of privacy and is often associated with both scandal and misinformation. During 2006, Italy reached a tipping point of wiretap reports. There were wiretaps being reported from business CEO’s to World Cup referees. It was discovered that the commercial provider Telecom Italia was actually to blame and was the first ever major corporate wiretapping of civilian cell phones. Both Vodafone and Ericson confirmed their phones had been used. The result was a law preventing wiretapped conversation in court.Two chiefs of security for Telecom Italia then died within 6 month period. Investigations into the alleged suicides of both Adamo Bove in Italy and Costas Tsalikidis in Greece raise questions about more than the suspicious circumstances of their deaths but no journalist took on an investigation for the public. Italian independent media released the statement that “As more troubling revelations come out of Europe, it may become more difficult to ignore how easily spying programs can be hijacked for illegitimate purposes. The brave soul who pursues this line of inquiry, however, should fear for his or her life.”

Most US wire tapping is done by the government on mobile phones. The DCS 3000 is a wiretapping technology used by the FBI.
A British company suggests assuming that all calls are being heard and gives some tips.

Promotion of Accurate Information
One way to respond to misinformation is through media campaigns that address scandals and promote accurate information. There was negative media coverage of the death of the Sudanese refugeeAamir Ageeb on board Lufthansa flight LH558 from Frankfurt to Cairo. The 30-year-old was so mishandled by three officials of the federal border patrol that he suffocated; the border guard forced him to wear a motorcycle helmet, tied his hands and feet, and, at take off, violently pushed his head down to his knees with all his strength. Lufstansa changed its policy in 2000 to be more accommodating and launched a media campaign but they were continually accused of having a “Deportation Class.”

Public service media are needed to help build trust in media accuracy . Below is an example that clarifies misinformation about the laws about the counterfeit trade.

Finally, every individual can help promote accurate information through the internet. See SOS Georgia: "We built this web site to be a clearinghouse for information about Georgia during the war and now the occupation…Here at SOS Georgia we are striving to present the true facts about what is really going on, stories from Refuges and people on the scene, contact information for source for Journalists and a way for supporters of Georgians around the world to connect with one another, exchange ideas and make plans for protest and rallies. Most of all we are trying out best to keep Georgia free from Russian occupation as an independent country with strong ties to the west."

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