Local elections in Turkey, how artificial intelligence is being used for fake news

2024-02-29 22:19:41, Kosova & Bota CNA

Local elections in Turkey, how artificial intelligence is being used for fake

Political allies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan want to regain control of Istanbul in local elections in March. Independent media outlets are warning about the tactics they are using, including artificial intelligence and fake videos in campaign ads. As the correspondent of the Voice of America, Dorian Jones from Istanbul, reports, the opponents say that these are part of the government's measures to stop people's access to the international media.

In Turkey, a video posted on social media, created by artificial intelligence, shows Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu saying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done good things.

Polls show the race to run the city will be close, and independent media are warning of the danger of videos and fake news, as mainstream media outlets, which are controlled by the government, are not verifying the authenticity of the videos.

“You can create a fake video through artificial intelligence and then publish it as a campaign ad. Fake videos are usually not posted on news portals, but they reach millions of people as advertisements. About 40 million people vote in Turkey, and when you ask people if Ekrem Imamoglu actually said these words, they say 'yes', due to the fact that they believe this video and follow the mainstream media in the country under the control of the government." , says Hikmet Adal, journalist at the "Bianet" portal.

During last year's presidential election, Mr Erdogan used a video falsely showing his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu with leaders of the Kurdish separatist group, which is fighting the Turkish government.

Rights groups warn that Turkey's independent media is increasingly facing another new threat.

"The new anti-disinformation law led to many investigations and prosecutions of journalists," says Yaman Akdeniz, from the Freedom of Expression Association.

Charges against the media in Turkey, under the new so-called anti-disinformation law, have made international news sources essential for exposing fake news.

Turkish authorities are blocking internet access to foreign news sources such as Deutsche Welle and Voice of America, which broadcast in Turkish. These media can only be read using a virtual private network, known as a VPN, which bypasses the blocking measures.

"Restriction of Internet access is the same for authoritarian regimes and governments. And so, we see all over the world an increase in the use of VPN, especially in countries like Turkey", says Antonio Cesarano, from the company "Proton" that provides secure internet for people in Turkey.

But now, Turkish authorities are also restricting some of the networks that offer the most widely used VPNs.

Mr. Cesarano calls it a game between the government and companies to continue investing in technology that can allow people to access the Internet without censorship.

Meanwhile, independent media warn that they are facing a losing battle in verifying fake news...

"We as media cannot fight fake news, as our teams are very limited: 20 people, maybe 15 people. This is the maximum number of a newsroom. But they have an army behind them", says Hikmet Adal, a journalist at the "Bianet" portal.

With polls showing that the Istanbul election will be a close race, analysts warn that the risk of fake news is likely to increase, further increasing pressure on independent media./ VOA

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