PETALING JAYA: It may have been raining cats and dogs in many parts of Malaysia but in China, it seems, there was rain of a different kind.
It rained fish! Pictures of fish strewn over a wet highway as people rushed to pick them up were all over social media a few days ago.
The only problem is: it was fake news. It was just a regular rainy day and a lorry carrying fish overturned. People with cameras put two and two together and came up with the fishy news.
Fake news is plentiful now on the Internet. The latest one was the “untimely death” of Prince Philip.
As an emergency meeting was called in Buckingham Palace, a European portal announced his “death” – and a famous English tabloid picked it up.
It took some time for all to retract the fake news. The Duke of Edinburgh, who will be 96 in June, is very much alive. The meeting was merely to announce that he was retiring from public duties later this year.
The Duke is not alone. Fake news and misinformation like this has happened to 80s pop star Rick Astley and action star Jackie Chan, to name a few.
So, please do your friends a favour the next time you come across such hot “news” – be it on the Internet or that some concerned friends send to you via a chat group – please verify before you spread the piece of “news”.
Stop spreading unnecessary anxiety. It’s worse if the fake news causes losses or unnecessary inconvenience to the people you sent it to.
The first thing that you might want to do is to check with various credible sources such as a valid news portal or newspaper before you rush to tweet it or put it on your Facebook timeline.
But false news is not the only fake stuff being shared.
Some dubious ads that are too good to be true are also rearing their ugly heads everywhere.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma, billionaire Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan, AirAsia chief Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and singer Datuk Siti Nurhaliza have all been victims of such ads.
Ananda’s picture has been used in an ad along with the caption “Billionaire risks it all, Ananda’s ‘secret’: system gives all Malaysians a chance at riches”, and IOIPG group executive chairman Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng’s and Fernandes’ image were used with the caption “Lee Shin Cheng/Tony Fernandes reveals easy work at home trick, quit your job in 30 days”.
Siti was embroiled in a controversy recently when her stolen pictures were featured in an Instagram promotion with her husband Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa posing for a sexual stimulant pill advert.
Siti, 38, said she was shocked to see the advertisement to promote the pills appearing on social media and threatened to sue the promoter. The advertisement claimed to help with infertility.
Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) president Datuk Johnny Mun said there were thousands of fake ads or news on various social media websites, with many without any proper checks, mainly programmed to attract customers to their sites.
“That is the social media for you because everyone is a publisher. There are simply not enough checks, so these things happen. This is where the enforcement should come in,” he said yesterday.
Mun said many products and brands were also not spared from fake news, which only lead to a waste of money and time.
“The point is, as responsible social media users we need to pause, check the facts before hitting the ‘send’ button. For readers, we need to be more discerning and check on what’s true or otherwise before sharing,” he said.
Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) deputy secretary-general II Michael Chai also concurred, saying it was tough to have strict enforcement unless authorities received complaints from certain parties on such matters.
“It is not only wrong to be involved in all these types of activities but also illegal. My only advice is that those prominent figures that have been smeared should consult their lawyers and take action,” he said.
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