Al Jazeera: A ‘tragedy’ for Arab media amid soft power failure

Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
Updated 05 April 2018

Al Jazeera: A ‘tragedy’ for Arab media amid soft power failure

  • Hopes were high for Al Jazeera when it was launched in 1996
  • Al Jazeera has become a “mouthpiece” for terrorists, says academic

Dubai: Al Jazeera’s “ideological” stance has been a “huge tragedy” for the Arab media industry, which has failed to bring the real Arab perspective to the world stage, a leading academic has said.
Hopes were high for Al Jazeera when it was launched in 1996, but the Qatar-based network has become a “mouthpiece” for terrorists and pursues an “ideological agenda,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
This has caused “tremendous damage” to the media industry as a whole, the academic said on the sidelines of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai.
“In the 1990s when Al Jazeera started, it was one of the most promising media institutions in the Arab world,” Gerges told Arab News.
“Sadly and tragically after 9/11, Al Jazeera became … a mouthpiece of Osama bin Laden.”
The academic said that the TV network had failed to become a credible media institution or source of information.
“Al Jazeera has sacrificed its institutional rubric on the altar of its ideological agenda,” he said. 
“What has happened to Al Jazeera is a huge tragedy for the Arab media … It is no longer seen by large constituencies of the Arab world as a media forum.
“You turn on Al Jazeera because you agree with Al Jazeera. It has become more and more ideologically tilted toward certain perspectives.”
Gerges said that Al Jazeera and other Arab media institutions had failed in their “soft power” push.
“We had thought that Al Jazeera could really be an institution that makes a huge difference to raise public awareness of the Arab world in terms of democracy, information and debate,” he said. 
“Sadly and tragically, particularly in the past 10 years, Al Jazeera has really done tremendous damage.”
The academic had hope, however, that journalists at media organizations across the region could help portray a real view of the Arab world.
“Arab media has failed to develop soft power influences (on) world public opinion … We have failed to put the Arab agendas, the Arab perspectives on the international stage,” he said. 
“Every journalist, every correspondent, every media person must understand that he or she has a moral professional responsibility not to simplify, not to distort, not to exaggerate.”
Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.


South Korean watchdog fines Facebook $6.1 million for sharing user info without consent

Updated 25 November 2020

South Korean watchdog fines Facebook $6.1 million for sharing user info without consent

  • Personal information of least 3.3 million of the 18 million Facebook users in Korea were provided without their knowledge

SEOUL: A South Korean agency for protecting personal information on Wednesday fined Facebook $6.06 million and sought a criminal investigation for providing users’ personal information to other operators without consent.
The country’s Personal Information Protection Commission, launched in August this year, said in a statement it fined Facebook after a probe found that the personal information of least 3.3 million of the 18 million Facebook users in Korea were provided to operators other than Facebook without their knowledge, from May 2012 to June 2018.
When someone uses another operator’s service through Facebook’s log-in, the personal information of the user’s Facebook friends was provided to other operators without their consent, the commission said.
The commission said it will refer Facebook Ireland Ltd, the recipient of the fine, to the country’s prosecution for a criminal investigation.
“We have cooperating as much as possible throughout the investigation process, we regret that the Personal Information Protection Commission has sought a criminal investigation,” a Seoul-based Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement, declining further comment as Facebook hasn’t yet fully reviewed the details of the decision.