Egypt creates hotlines for citizens to report fake news
Two weeks ahead of Egypt’s presidential election, the authorities have set up telephone hotlines for the public to report “mendacious” information in the media. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns this attempt to impose an even tighter gag on the country’s already muzzled press.
The department of prosecutions announced on 12 March that hotlines have been created in every region for members of the public to call or leave text messages reporting fake news in either traditional or social media that endangers state security.
“After arresting journalists, blocking online media and bringing traditional media outlets under its control, President Sisi’s regime is now inciting the public to be on the watch for supposedly fake news,” RSF said. “Two weeks before the presidential election, this new measure by the Egyptian authorities establishes a dangerous climate of denunciation and tightens the gag on media that have already been reduced to silence.”
Just two weeks ago, Egypt’s chief prosecutor accused the “forces of evil” of “trying to undermine the security and safety of the nation through the broadcast and publication of lies and false news” in the media and on social networks. And he ordered all Egyptian prosecutors to scrutinize the media for "false news.”
Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Most of the independent media have been stifled, either by the blocking of their websites or by being brought under direct control. RSF’s website has been blocked within Egypt since August 2017.