Online media criticize CEC over misinformation accusations – Civil.ge
Georgia’s three main online media – Netgazeti, Publika and On.Ge – released a joint statement on September 23, falsely criticizing the Information Protection Center, a body under the Central Election Commission that monitors television and online media as well as Facebook. accusing them of attempts to discredit and spread disinformation.
All three media said the Center damaged their reputation. “Such accusations are unacceptable for credible, professional and quality-oriented media,” the statement said.
In their latest post, The Center, which publishes bimonthly surveillance reports, attributed three cases of disinformation to Netgazeti, two to Publika and one to On.Ge.
In response to the allegations, the CEC body admitted that there had been a “technical error” regarding Netgazeti and The Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, which was corrected as soon as it was discovered. The Center added that IIn the case of Publika and ON.GE, their coverage of statements from local watchdogs, which were marked as disinformation, led to “a surveillance flaw and was corrected accordingly”.
The Information Protection Center stressed that it was “ready to consider constructive comments and recommendations”, but did not apologize to the media concerned.
In their joint statement, Netgazeti, Publika and On.Ge also pointed out that the Center has not yet corrected the errors and that the original report – its Georgian and English versions – is currently still available on the CEC website.
The media organizations called on the CEC to “quickly” correct the errors in the report and release the new versions through the same channels as the original document.
“Otherwise, we will be obliged to protect our reputation according to the law,” they warned.
Commenting on the controversy, Mariam Gogosashvili of MediaChecker, a local watchdog, said yesterday that “the purpose of CEC media monitoring is unclear”.
“Government representatives constantly express their desire to regulate the media, which they justify by ‘the fight against disinformation’. Hopefully the idea of media monitoring was not invented to “support” an idea of media regulation, ”Gogosashvili said.
The CEC Information Protection Center, in its statement, pointed out that the Center was established with financial support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the United States Agency for International Development ( USAID) in 2021. The group was formed and the selected monitors received training on media standards and spoofing detection.
USAID, however, was quick to point out today that “the CEC is solely responsible for the operations of the center.” After initially supporting the CEC to establish the center a year ago, in 2020 it “ended this assistance and the center is now operating without the support of the US government. “