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Haiti, Tech

WhatsApp: The Purveyor of Fake News In Haiti and One Haitian Org That’s Fighting Back

Photo credit: Vania Andre

By Makana Eyre

In the last days of January, a sex tape began to spread rapidly across Haiti’s social media channels. Its reach was particularly broad because people claimed that the star of the video was a Haitian minister called Enol Joseph. The video turned out to be fake, but it still had a strong impact and underlined a problem that’s become more and more pervasive in Haiti—the spread of misinformation. One organization is trying to fight back.  

T-Check Haiti, a new fact-checking platform, aims to give Haitians an easy way to know whether information is fact-based. Co-founded and led by Franciyou Germain, T-Check launched late last year and since has been analyzing stories and allegations like the alleged sextape for accuracy. For Germain, the goal of T-Check is simple, saying that they exist “to expose fake news and spread facts and truth, no matter the consequences.”

Fake news has become a problem in many parts of the world over the last few years. There have been allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and countries from Brazil to Austria are struggling with how to deal with the spread of misinformation.

But for countries like Haiti, whose system of governance is young and fragile, fake news can have an enormous impact, especially given increased access to technology. As it has done for many developing countries, Whatsapp connected Haitians to each other and to the wider world. Suddenly, there was an easy and affordable way for residents of the Caribbean nation to communicate with friends and family there, but also to people in the global diaspora in Paris, New York, Montreal, and Miami.

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Makana Eyre

Makana Eyre is a freelance reporter based in Paris, France. For the Haitian Times, he covers social, cultural and political topics related to the Haitian diaspora in Europe. Makana is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School where he was a fellow at the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.
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Feb. 18, 2019