A fake Facebook post screenshot doctored to pose as Dawn.com surfaced on social media on Thursday.
The fake post attempts to mislead the public and stakeholders by suggesting that Afghanistan accepted the Durand Line as an official border. It presented an image of Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and falsely claims this was discussed in a meeting.
The doctored image, which copies elements of Dawn's social media and Facebook layout, led to the Afghan National Security Council (NSC) issuing a press release that mistakenly assumed the post was legitimate.
In order to ensure authorities and the public do not fall prey to such mischievous machinations in future, the following points detail how it can be identified that the Facebook post is fake.
1. Time stamp
A typical Facebook post has a time stamp and a privacy icon below the publisher's name.
The doctored image has "3 Std." written where the time stamp is located, while Facebook's standard format is 34 mins, 2 hrs, and Friday at 7:29pm for minutes, hours and days.
2. Position of the 'like' thumb icon
Facebook places the 'like' thumb icon below posts. In the fake post, the thumb icon is floating at the top right near the menu button. It is also not correctly aligned with the menu button.
3. Stylistical differences with Dawn
The Facebook caption of the fake post introduces General Bajwa as "Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa". A Pakistani publication does not need to tell its readers that General Bajwa is Pakistan's army chief. Dawn, as shown in the lede of this very story, introduces General Bajwa as "Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa". This may be verified in Dawn.com stories.
Dawn's contraction for Chief of Army Staff is COAS, and not CoAS — unlike how it's done in the fake post.
The caption also fails to capitalise the line in Durand Line which is not Dawn style.
The fake post ends with an exclamation mark, which as policy, Dawn does not use in hard news posts.
All of the above can be verified by browsing Dawn.com stories and Facebook page
This is not the first attempt to mislead the public by circulating fake news using Dawn.com platforms.
From January to April, 2017 Dawn.com came under multiple cyber attacks where attempts were made to hack and hijack its official social media accounts and the accounts of its staff. The attempts failed. The statement released at the time reads:
“Hate speech and content that is blasphemous, indecent, prohibited, illegal, or likely to arouse societal discord or disturb tranquility will not be tolerated,” the statement said.
Hackers and malicious groups attempt to damage reputations and stir up virulent and negative campaigns to serve their agenda... Dawn had been a target of such online campaigns in the past, too.
The group sought its readers’ help in the “fight against hackers who are bent upon spreading fear, hatred and disinformation; who through their actions, are attacking our shared commitment to the progress of Pakistan”.