17th February 2018
By Tom Law

Fake news and the Gulf crisis | Inside Story | Al Jazeera

A fake news story triggered a major geo-political crisis in May last year and the effects are still being felt across the Gulf nations.

Source: Al Jazeera News

A fake news story in late May 2017 triggered a major diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

The story was planted on the website of Qatar News Agency (QNA) by hackers. It falsely attributed comments to Qatar’s emir, which were then aired on Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel.

A few weeks later, in early June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties with Qatar.

As British media watchdog Ofcom investigates Qatar’s complaint against Al Arabiya for the false story, the Dubai-based channel has surrendered its license to broadcast in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

QNA says Al Arabiya’s decision was dictated by the inquiry but the channel says business reasons influenced the step.

Currently in its ninth month and affecting people across the region, the crisis highlights the dangers posed by fake news.

What can be done to stop fake news? Should states intervene, or should journalists regulate themselves? And what is the role of tech companies?

Presenter: Martine Dennis


Mohamed Elmasry – Chair of Journalism Programme at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

Tom Law – Director of Campaigns and Communications at the Ethical Journalism Network

Pierluigi Paganini – Founder of the Security Affairs blog and member of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security