Get info from authentic news sources during political crises, say academics

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 27 Feb 2020

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): When the country is hit by a political crisis, the public is advised to obtain information through authentic news sources to avoid making the situation worse by believing in false, inaccurate and speculative information.

Shah Alam Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) political and social media analyst associate professor Dr Sara Chinnasamy said there were too much of an information explosion from inside and outside the country on the current political crisis, and it had an impact on the national economy.

“It is important that official, authentic and accurate information must reach the people. So, media practitioners must empower the delivery of information on the current challenge of the political leadership crisis.

“The delivery of communications between leaders and the people is very important at the moment.

“The people must know the latest status on the national political development which is entering its fifth day, ” she told Bernama on Thursday (Feb 27).

She said the explosion of fake information could confuse the people and result in them losing confidence in national politics.

Based on her observations, posts on politicians’ and individuals’ social media accounts could trigger emotional reactions from supporters that would complicate the situation.

Chinnasamy also reminded the public to only refer to legitimate sources, any official information from Istana Negara and political parties, in the form of press releases or press conferences or authentic media.

“This should be stressed especially in this chronic situation because, whatever the development and speculation taking place, the people need to have authentic information.

“This factor is inevitable as our population is close to 34 million people while there are almost 24 million Facebook users alone, (plus) other social media platforms, ” she said.

Echoing her was Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) School of Multimedia Technology and Communication senior lecturer Mohd Zuwairi Mat Saad, who said spreading false and inaccurate news could cause “moral panic” within the community if not curbed.

Undeniably, he said that the people would prefer to receive information on current politics through social media because of its speed.

“Speculative news via social media that has no validation will appeal to and be fully believed by readers, as usually happens (with events) such as the current political situation.

“This is made worse when there is the dissemination of fake news, causing moral panic among Malaysians which if left unchecked would disrupt the public order, ” he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will continue to monitor the dissemination of fake information on social media.

The MCMC in a recent press statement has reminded the public not to disseminate false information that touches on racial, religious and royal institution (3Rs) sensitivities.

“Any sharing of content that is false, offensive and threatening in nature is an offence under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

“Offenders can be fined up to RM50,000 or be jailed for not more than a year or both, upon conviction.

“In this matter, the MCMC stresses that enforcement action will be carried out based on public complaints, according to provisions in existing laws in a transparent manner to protect the rights and interests of society, ” it said. – Bernama

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