Social media has always been a platform for people to express their views, but over the years, fake news seems to have taken precedence and often causes damage to many.
The term fake news became a global phenomenon mainly due to the 2016 United States presidential election.
Malaysia also seems to have been affected by fake news, and with the country heading towards the general election, it is set to be more rampant than ever.
As a journalist, fake news has become such a bane for me as people tend to believe and share news and stories on Facebook or via WhatsApp without verifying whether it is true or false.
Early this year, I received a call from my bureau chief asking me to get confirmation from the police about an alleged kidnapping case where a boy was taken for organ harvesting.
A message was being widely circulated on WhatsApp, claiming that the boy had been kidnapped in Johor.
The message included photos of an unidentified boy and the body of another boy with surgical scars.
It claimed that the boy was found with his internal organs removed, and that the suspect was from Menggatal in Sabah.
After checking with the police, the case had not taken place in Johor and the information was spread by irresponsible quarters trying to cause anxiety among the public.
Recently, His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar said he was “extremely upset” over a social media posting that went viral.
A 2015 Facebook posting by Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had been distorted and made its rounds on social media.
“It is fake news. It is a fabrication and I am very angry at this kind of false news.
“We want the police to trace the culprits behind this as we take this very seriously.
“It is a serious offence to use the Johor Palace’s name to create fake news,” he said.
His Majesty advised the public to be more cautious about fake news as it was likely to be more frequent now because of the upcoming elections.
His Majesty also expressed regret that social media had been misused by some people to spread fake news to sow distrust and hatred.
With that, he advised the media and public to verify the source of news “instead of simply forwarding” it.
At the same time, the Johor Royal Court Council also slammed an article from a Singapore news portal for falsely attributing remarks to Johor royalty.
Its president Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli emphasised that all statements made by His Majesty the Sultan of Johor and Tunku Mahkota Johor are only released through the Royal Johor (Royal Press Office) official page, Johor Southern Tigers official page and The Star.
Thankfully, the Government is doing something to address the matter.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the Anti Fake News Bill had been approved by the Cabinet and will be tabled in Parliament next week.
People should do something that can actually bring benefit to others instead of contributing to spread of fake news.
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