SEMPORNA, Malaysia The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has urged the public to be constantly on their guard against fake general election-related news reports that are being circulated online.
Its Advocacy and Outreach Division senior director Eneng Faridah Iskandar said now that the campaigning for the May 9 GE14 has reached a crucial stage, Internet users have to be wary of the information they may receive through their social media applications.
She advised them to refrain from sharing any news with others without verifying its contents first.
According to Eneng Faridah, certain irresponsible groups were trying to take advantage of the campaign period to disseminate fake news with the intention of causing confusion among the public.
“All kinds of theories, assumptions and opinions will arise during campaigns, so the people have to be smart enough to be able to differentiate between fact and what appears to be the personal views of someone who has his own hidden agenda,” she said when met here.
She was in Semporna, recently as part of MCMC’s “Siri Jelajah Sebenarnya.my” or Sebenarnya.my tour series.
The Sebenarnya.my website, launched by MCMC in March 2017, serves as a one-stop centre for Malaysians to verify news reports if they are uncertain of its authenticity.
Carrying the tagline “Not Sure, Don’t Share”, the portal has so far received 25 million hits, garnering almost 500,000 visits a week.
Since the dissemination of false news can have an undesirable impact on Malaysia’s multiracial society and lead to disharmony, Eneng Faridah urged Malaysians to verify the news that they read on online sites or receive through WhatsApp and other social media platforms.
“When people are not so inclined to verifying the information they receive, they will be taken advantage of by irresponsible parties,” she said, adding that the public could refer to MCMC’s Sebenarnya.my to check the veracity of news reports before sharing the information with others.
If a certain news report cannot be verified on the Sebenarnya.my portal, the public can refer it to the Communications and Multimedia Ministry or the relevant agencies for clarification.
“The ministry or agency will respond to reports that go viral within four hours, instead of 24 hours as was the case previously because fake news can pose a threat to the nation’s security,” she said.
Individuals caught disseminating fake news can be charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, or under the recently introduced Anti-Fake News Act 2018, which provides for a maximum fine of RM500,000 or six-year jail term or both.
“Even if a person is not the creator of the fake news but is found disseminating it, he can be charged under the two laws. So, it’s best not to share any news that goes viral,” cautioned Eneng Faridah.
On MCMC’s Sebenarnya.my tour series, she said so far this year, the tour has taken them to 50 locations nationwide.
The tour series is aimed at educating local communities on the importance of verifying the contents of news items before sharing them on social media.
Eneng Faridah said MCMC would continue with its efforts to educate the public on the dangers of disseminating fake news as the government viewed this as a serious issue.
“As long as we have fake news being circulated, we have to continue educating the people. Sometimes people get so excited when they receive some news report or other and can’t wait to share it, without even thinking of the consequences,” she added.
Meanwhile, the manager of the 1Malaysia Internet Centre at Kampung Bubul Lama, here, Ramlah Roslan, 28, said MCMC’s Sebenarnya.my tour has enabled the local community to understand what the portal was all about and the importance of verifying news reports that go viral.
She said the carnival that was organised by MCMC in conjunction with its tour had succeeded in attracting a large crowd, thus generating more publicity for its Sebenarnya.my portal.
“I hope after this the people here will become more aware of the need to check the truth of any information that they may receive,” she added.–NNN-BERNAMA
Source: NAM News Network