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AltNews lies in its response but IFCN declares political activists ‘neutral’: Here is how IFCN is a threat to Indian sovereignty

It isn't surprising at all considering the fact that the objective of the entire exercise from the very beginning was to absolve AltNews of all sins.

There is a network of left-leaning so-called fact-checkers worldwide which has formed a monopoly over fact-checking by organizing themselves under one banner. They pretend that they are the only fact-checkers that exist on the planet and hand out fact-checking certificates which are then used by tech giants like Facebook to further strengthen the hold of Left in mainstream discourse.

This has become obvious in the manner in which AltNews was treated by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The ‘International’ in IFCN ought to have been replaced with the word Globalist since it captures their motives and objectives much more effectively.

The IFCN had earlier announced that it was looking into potential violations committed by self-proclaimed fact-checking website AltNews, which is one of its Indian partners. The latter had violated IFCN guidelines which state that staff associated with an organization that seeks accreditation cannot be directly involved in advocacy groups or political parties.

AltNews founder Pratik Sinha and directors Nirjhari Sinha and Murlidhar Deomurari are members of the Jan Sangharsh Manch which is a civil rights organizations with obviously political objectives. The organization was founded by Mukul Sinha and Nirjhari Sinha, the parents of Pratik Sinha. The leadership of the Jan Sangharsh Manch also founded the New Socialist Movement which was registered as a political party with the Election Commission in 2007. Mukul Sinha had also contested elections in the past and lost horribly.

Moreover, their entire series of protests were directed against Narendra Modi who was elected Prime Minister for his second term recently and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Their activism has been consistently directed, with little or no exceptions, against the ruling political party.

Therefore, it ought to have been obvious to anyone that AltNews was violating IFCN principles by virtue of its membership being associated with advocacy groups and political parties. However, Baybars Orsek, director of IFCN, announced on Twitter yesterday that they had asked AltNews a set of questions and after being satisfied with their response, they concluded that there was no ground for any action.

Interestingly, IFCN appears to have made no efforts to verify the claims made by AltNews. Even a cursory investigation would have punctured the narrative AltNews was trying to create in less than half an hour.

It isn’t surprising at all considering the fact that the objective of the entire exercise from the very beginning was to absolve AltNews of all sins. The entire exercise was a sham. It was an official exercise involving a cover-up by the IFCN so that it can carry on with its charade of neutrality. Because, after all, who are these people accountable to? No one. Who do these people answer to? Absolutely no one.

It was an exercise in abject mockery of any semblance of neutrality. They are telling us that right to our face: “We are lying. We know that you know we are lying. But what are you going to do about it? What could you possibly do about it?”

The answers by AltNews on the basis of which IFCN cleared them of all charges of political partisanship amply demonstrate this fact. AltNews told IFCN, “JSM’s activities are mainly concentrated in the following areas: Right to Shelter, Environmental Protection, Right to civic amenities, Protection of historical monuments, Minority Rights, Gender Equality and Women’s rights. As part of these activities, many Public Interest Litigations (PIL) have been filed by JSM in support of the affected parties. JSM also organises demonstrations, rallies and seminars to raise awareness in the aforementioned areas of activities. All the work carried out by JSM is pro-bono in nature and JSM members connected with various activities do not receive any monetary benefits or remuneration. The activities of JSM have often been highlighted by mainstream media in India.”

The IFNC also accepts AltNews’ claim that JSM is a civil rights organization and not an advocacy group and is thus politically neutral without a shred of scepticism. It appears the IFCN could not recognize an advocacy group if the members of one dancing in front of them screaming their favourite slogans. And how could a civil rights organization ever be politically neutral? It is an oxymoron by its very definition. Moreover, the leadership of the organization concerned formed a political party. But the IFCN does not see any political partisanship here. None.

The IFCN did not ask AltNews any questions about the New Socialist Movement. AltNews founders are directly related to this political party, in fact, Nirjhari Sinha is a founding member of the party. Even the address and phone numbers of the political party and a propaganda website run by Pratik Sinha are same, but IFCN didn’t feel it was necessary to ask them about it.

Address of New Socialist Movement on EC website
Address of Pratik Sinha’s website

It’s not surprising because it is an act of partisanship that is too much to whitewash even in an official cover-up. That Baybars Orsek does not find anything remotely partisan about any of AltNews’ conduct isn’t too surprising when one considers his own past record.

Orsek has been a politician in the past. He was the member of the Turkish Guclu Turkiye (Powerful Turkey) party. In October 2010, leaders of the party including Orsek were told by Armenian authorities to leave the country after they claimed to have crossed the Turkey-Armenia border amidst tensions between the two countries. The party was officially disbanded in 2012.

The Epoka University describes Orsek as “one of the most successful young politicians and entrepreneurs in Turkey”. Understandably, the post on its website was written sometime in or before 2014. It says further, “he has always been an energetic and passionate activist, project initiator and coordinator in many non-governmental organizations, alongside his participation in politics. In 2010, Baybars Örsek attended a one-month program on ‘Preventing political conflicts’ at the University of Maryland, USA and in this respect, he pioneered in organizing a workshop on citizen diplomacy between Turkey and Armenia with the participation of Turkish and Armenian university students. Baybars Örsek attended two different political exchange programs covering Lebanon, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and shared ideas with the leading characters of these countries in politics, economy and social issues.”

Orsek is a member of the board of trustees at TESEV, Turkey’s oldest think tank. His profile says, “The new TESEV longs for a democratic Turkey that fully respects human rights and the rule of law; that sees others not as adversaries but as potential partners for cooperation; that has internalized the culture of reconciliation; that has embraced accountability and transparency as an essential principle at every stage of public life; that has ensured the efficient functioning of advanced mechanisms to guarantee, rather than merely imagining, the broad and effective participation of citizens in the government of the country; that has prioritized the principle of equal opportunity; that has rendered the sensibilities of contemporary civilization as the foundation of public morals; and that is open to all beliefs and ideologies. The full force of its efforts is to make sure that scientifically-based recommendations are shared with anyone or any organization that wants to achieve these objectives. Our doors are open to all those who long for the same principles.”

It does sound like TESEV indulges in advocacy, doesn’t it? Does Orsek violate the norms of IFCN itself by being a member of the board of trustees of this particular think-tank? Apart from all of this, Orsek has a BA degree in international relations and MA degree on conflict resolution.

The Point Conference, which lists Orsek as one of its speakers but rather unusually doesn’t feature his photo on his profile further elucidates his own biases and confirms his long history in activism and politics. Orsek is supposedly the founder of The Dialogue for a Common Future Association as well. As per the Conference’s website, the organization “was established on January 16, 2014. The association was established to further Turkey’s democratization process and to mobilize Turkish youth in favour of a participatory and plural social and political environment in Turkey. Through national and international projects, The Dialogue for a Common Future Association aims to satisfy the demands of Turkey’s youth for more democracy, participation and dialogue for “common future” ideal.”

Thus, quite clearly, Orsek has a long history of activism. And given the information that we are now aware of, it appears his activism has always leaned towards a very particular brand of politics. In light of this new information, it’s not really surprising at all that IFCN does not find AltNews to be a partisan organization. After all, how can an organization that has a long-time activist who was even the member of a political party as one of its directors find AltNews in violation of its guidelines on neutrality?

It’s not the first time that a fact-checking initiative accredited by IFCN has found itself in a controversy. Earlier in May, Greece had threatened to raise the issue of Facebook partnering with a fact-checker at the EU level. According to Greece, the social media giant had partnered with a fact-checker that had political biases and motives. Facebook defended itself by claiming that the said fact-checker was verified by IFCN.

Poynter Institute, IFCN’s parent organization, has itself been accused of political bias. In May, it had listed the Daily Signal as an “unreliable news website”. The list was eventually taken down for its inaccuracy. When contacted by the Daily Signal over the matter, Orsek admitted that there was no debate to exclude any liberal outlets from the database.

Under such circumstances, it’s quite obvious what is happening here. We have a bunch of globalists who have formed an extensive network of organizations in various countries and have an effective monopoly on fact-checking so that their globalist agenda can be pursued. The government of India ought to consider the vast influence international companies such as Facebook, which are using these unaccountable networks to determine how millions of Indians access information and conduct an investigation into whether these companies are undermining India’s national interests.

AltNews, quite transparently, was trying to influence the results of the Indian general elections. They have every right to because they are Indian citizens. However, Facebook could have appointed AltNews as part of their fact-checker initiative due to accreditation by IFCN. The IFCN is a globalist organization completely unaccountable to the Indian population. AltNews could have then used the IFCN accreditation to further its own agenda. Thus, albeit indirectly, IFCN would have been influencing Indian general elections.

In the extremely complicated world of complex technology, the Indian government needs to address these issues urgently. Global tech giants like Facebook and Google are already trying to influence US elections, there’s no reason to assume that they haven’t tried that already in India. In addition, we have globalist organizations such as the IFCN who have the capability to subvert Indian elections as well. These issues need to be addressed immediately.

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K Bhattacharjee
K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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