Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 24th 2017 Contents IAN K RAMDHANIE, MSC,
Do you believe everything
that people tell you? No, it
depends on who's saying it. So,
you do some kind of mental vet-
ting first. This is now required
more today as another easy way
has been found to deceive the
Using technology to share in-
formation and news, fraudsters
came up with ways to spread
what's commonly called fake
news. The easy availability of
smart phones, iPads and com-
puters make it much easier for
fraudsters to deliberately spread
false propaganda on various so-
cial media and websites.
Fake news has grown to be very
sophisticated as they look very
much like coming from legitimate
news organisations. Some fake
news websites use website spoof-
ing that's structured to make
visitors believe they're visiting
trusted news sources.
It's well-known that T&T fol-
lows good and bad trends of other
societies. This new "bad" trend
of fake news, if not here already
in a significant way, will soon
be prevalent on our shores if not
Fake news websites, pages and
posts are deliberately created to
publish many hoaxes, propagan-
da and disinformation claiming
to be accurate news to deliber-
ately mislead intended readers
whether for financial and/or
political gain, to cause public
mischief, etc. It has even been
deemed a form of psychological
warfare, and further classified as
a threat to democracy! Fake news
has been promulgated worldwide.
In fact, reports suggest that it was
used to influence the USA's 2016
presidential election through cy-
Fake news is not as recent a
phenomenon as many would
think. Historically, such unethi-
cal journalistic practices existed
for hundreds of years before the
birth of the Internet.
Many experts identify a num-
ber of practices that people
should adopt to detect fake news
as shown below.
1. Use fact-checking websites
to help identify and respond to
fake news, eg, FactCheck.org,
ABC News, Washington Post Fact
Checker, The Associated Press,
TinEye Reverse Image Search.
2. Check the URL attached to a
website to see if it looks odd, eg,
a "com.co" ending on a website
that looks authentic can be a red
flag. If you are doubtful, click on
the "contact" or "about" links to
see where they lead to.
3. Fake reports are created to
stir up your emotions. If you read
something and it contains unpat-
riotic words or deeds, it's some-
thing for you to check out.
4. Keep in mind that if what's
said in the news is real, other sites
will be reporting it too. Check
other reputable sites to corrobo-
rate what you read.
5. Most real newsrooms don't
use many caps lock, multiple
exclamation marks, etc. in their
writings. If you see these, it's a
6. Check out the names of
people who are purported to be
writing the stories, eg, use Google
to see if they are real or not.
7. Check out what other arti-
cles they would have published to
give you a gage as to whether it's
8. Read past the headline or
opening paragraph. Many fake
news publishers know this and
write accordingly and don't back
up what they say later on in their
9. Check the published date
and time. Often, a problem with
fake news is that they publish old
articles or events and lead people
to believe that it just occurred.
10. Look at what links and
sources are used. A lack of links
and sources in an article are
warning signs that the post is
likely false. However, some false
articles have lots of links that ap-
pear to support the claim. Check
to see that these claims are com-
ing from links that are reliable
11. Look out for questionable
quotes and photos. It's easy for
fake news writers to invent false
quotes and attribute them to
public people. It's also simple to
take a photo from one event and
use it in another as well as images
can be altered easily. Use re-
verse image searches to help you
find where an image originated.
Google or tools like TinEye can be
used to verify these.
12. Be aware of confirmation
bias by checking that news sto-
ries are based on fact rather than
sharing them because they sup-
port one side of an argument that
you may or may not agree with.
13. Think twice before sharing
news. If you are unsure whether
the news are true or fake, don't
14. We recommend that rel-
evant educational programmes
be developed and delivered in
primary and secondary schools
as a good way of equipping young
persons on the various tech-
niques in detecting fake news.
The Ministry of Education should
quickly get a campaign going on
Many social media platforms
like Facebook and Google have
instituted some checks and steps
to detect and block fake news.
However, much more technologi-
cal interventions are needed.
The recent revelation by the
Attorney General of T&T to bring
appropriate amendments to the
law to deal with perpetrators of
fake news is a welcome one. The
public awaits its draft as it has
implications for all of us. But,
importantly, in the mean time, we
all have our own individual re-
sponsibilities to check and ensure
that the news are indeed accurate
before believing and sharing.
The CISPS is a registered institution
with the Accreditation Council
of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT).
Tel: 223-6999, 299-8635, info@
guardian.co.tt Friday, February 24, 2017
On Carnival Friday last year,
my sapodilla was on stage
singing her calypso competition
tune, Mosquito. Zika was an on-
coming threat and we wanted to
combine musical commentary on a
serious issue with humour, to step
away from trends where women
and girls are the voices of public
lament, while men and boys the
kings of humour and word play.
So, her verse, "Health Ministry
spray/cannot save the day/plus
recession biting them too," was
meant to highlight collective re-
sponsibility for mosquito-borne
diseases, ecological concerns
about insecticides used by the
state and their impact on insect
biodiversity and, at another level,
the multiple ways big issues bite
both state and society. She came
second, promptly putting her prize
money in her piggy-bank.
Following this, the song reached
the ears of a national park ranger
in the US who, just this week, sent
Ziya her own Biscayne National
Park Junior Ranger badge because
her song is going to be introduced
into their kids' camp. In her mailed
package, Sapodilla also got a
fossilised shark tooth which she
proudly put in her treasure box.
You never know where calypso can
Today, she's on stage again, with
"first-class lyrics for so/ but not
about no mosquito." This time,
she's telling a true story about our
dog Shak Shak who, terrified by
Old Year's Night fireworks, ran
away and was lost for several days.
In the song, she looks for Shak
Shak everywhere. She goes by
the church, all they tell her is that
prayer always works. She stops
by the shop owner, but he's only
helping his customers. The police
are too busy looking for tief. She
calls up the Prime Minister, he tells
her to put her request in a letter.
She goes up Mount Hololo, which
is near us, and even Tobago, which
is far, but no Shak Shak.
The end of the song finds Shak
Shak hopping a drop to the beach
for, of all things a vacation, lead-
ing to the double-meaning in the
punch-line which observes how
"Shak Shak reach!," a local turn of
phrase for when someone ends up
where you don't expect, whether
in terms of geographical extrem-
ities or rapidly improved circum-
stances by opportunistic means.
In reality, our terrified dog was
picked up at the side of the road
by a nice couple, whose car she
jumped into when they stopped
to check on her. As they were on
their way to Las Cuevas, Shak Shak
went with them and spent several
days liming, likely happily, on the
North Coast with their family, all
while we searched and worried.
When they returned to Santa Cruz,
and saw the posters, Shak Shak
was brought home, looking well
rested and well refreshed from all
the crisp sea and mountain breeze.
A fireworks-terrified lost dog
is such a common story, and the
beloved pothound so many chil-
dren grow up with is such a com-
mon memory, how could we not
turn this escapade into kaiso? Of
course, as kaiso must, Shak Shak
gets portrayed in the figure of the
wayward quick-stepper, success-
fully breaking biche before order
is restored, for isn't that what the
bravado of calypso requires of even
the most timid of real-life char-
Zi herself is a timid character.
She's produced by her dad, Lyndon
'Stonez' Livingstone, whose Ra-
zorshop roadmix of MX Prime and
UR's Full Extreme is now on radio
replay. Still, this singing on stage
business, though just in her school
hall, is a reach for her as well.
Might she come first this year?
Given where Mosquito and Shak
Shak ended up, you never can tell.
DON'T GET CAUGHT IN LATEST TRAP
'LOOK WHERE SHAK SHAK END UP'
DIARY OF A MOTHERING WORKER
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