Decrease in fake news after enactment of Emergency Ordinance, says Saifuddin

Exposure to fake news has an influence on readers' behaviour, but not as much as one might think. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: There has been a decrease in fake news after the enactment of the Emergency Ordinance, says Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Saifuddin said the police have taken action over fake news reports related to Covid-19 under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) and the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021, which has been enforced throughout the Emergency Ordinance period.

From March 18, 2020 till July 11 this year,Saifuddin said action had been taken on 282 cases, while 163 cases were still under investigation.

He also said investigations were completed in 119 cases, noting that 29 of these cases had been taken to court in which three had been sentenced and six were charged under the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021.

“Why there is a clear decrease of fake news during the last four to five months when we have the ordinance in operation is perhaps because the ordinance has served its purpose mainly to expedite the investigations.

“I believe this is the main reason as people know we mean business and we managed to expedite investigations,” he said during a virtual press conference on Thursday (July 22).

Also in attendance were Criminal Investigations Department deputy director (intelligence/operations) DCP Datuk Dev Kumar MM Sree, and Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek.

DCP Dev Kumar noted that since the Emergency Ordinance was enacted, fake news in the country decreased from an average of 24 cases a month to seven cases.

However, DCP Dev Kumar said there were still challenges in combating fake news as they were disseminated on fake accounts.

“The postings were deleted before we can track down the account holders, and many also live overseas,” he said.

A state of emergency was declared on Jan 21 till Aug 1 as a proactive measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

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