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Friday, March 04, 2011

Ma'an pushes a fake Facebook "revolution"

It is not only Fatah and Hamas who are planning fake Facebook revolutions against the other, hoping to gain traction.

It looks like Ma'an News Agency is doing the same thing:

Palestinian students and rights activists in Gaza have initiated a campaign for Palestinian refugees aiming to harness the winds of change in the Middle East and mobilize the diaspora into action.

On May 15, the group said, more than 1 million people will participate in a global sit-in at Israeli embassies worldwide.

An organizer in Gaza told Ma'an that a preparatory committee was making contacts regionally and internationally, and a coordinated effort was underway to demand the return of 9 million refugees from camps in the Middle East and abroad.

"It is not our goal to criticize, affect or push negotiations or international treaties. We are only demanding the right of return to occupied territories," the organizer said.

Figures known for their work on refugee rights have been contacted, organizers said. Among them: former Palestinian member of the Knesset Azmi Bishara, Palestinian researcher, academic and leader of the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition Salman Abu Sittah and former British MP George Galloway.

Palestinian communities in Europe and Latin America were being targeted for the rally, and being asked to gather outside Israeli diplomatic offices in world capitals.

In the Middle East, organizers said locations were being kept under wraps, for fear that measures would be taken to quash the peaceful action before its launch.
Notice anything missing from this "news" article?

It has no specifics whatsoever.

Where on Facebook is this group? What is its name? How many people are involved? How many have signed on? How can they be contacted? What are the names of anyone associated with the group? What evidence is there that any of the names dropped by the organizers as being "contacted" (meaning, emailed) are even aware of the group?

In other words, what makes Ma'an believe that a Facebook group that anyone could set up is newsworthy?

It took a short while, but I found the group on Facebook. It has a mere 133 members. It shows no organization, no concrete actions, just a call by a person or two for "revolution." It is tiny, inconsequential and worthless, and there is no evidence that it has any real support.

Yet Ma'an reports this Facebook group that any ten year old could create as if it is a major news story.

Which means that Ma'an is not trying to report the news, but it is trying to create it, by giving the impression of a huge groundswell of support for a tiny initiative.