KUALA LUMPUR: Better awareness among Malaysians has led to fewer incidents of fake news on social media about Covid-19 and vaccines, says Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
"Overall, the spread of fake news on social media has lessened compared to when the vaccination programme was initially launched.
"Better awareness among the public is one reason for the success of the ongoing vaccination programme.
"This proves that the spread of such fake news has become less effective," the Communications and Multimedia Minister said when replying to a question raised by Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun (PN-Beaufort) in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday (Sept 20).
He noted that the ministry, through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), had carried out 83 advocacy campaigns through the Malaysia ICT Volunteer programme last year and 25 so far this year.
He also said the rapid response team set up to tackle fake news on social media platforms dealt with a lower number of cases this year compared to last year.
"In 2020, the rapid response team had to counter a total of 416 pieces of fake news on social media whereas there have been only 63 cases so far this year," he added.
He also said the portal, Sebenarnya.com, aimed at providing accurate information to dispel fake news, had seen some 186 million page views and 9.83 million hits.
However, he acknowledged that there was still some fake news being spread, which also involved medical practitioners.
To tackle this, he said that the police had opened 307 investigation papers related to fake news on Covid-19 between March last year and September this year.
He added that 163 cases have since been resolved while 37 cases were brought to court with another 114 cases still under investigation.
He also assured Datuk Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus (PH-Ulu Langat) that no one was above the law if they were found guilty of spreading fake news, including ministers.
"I too have been issued summonses on two occasions for breaching standard operating procedures," Annuar said, citing himself as an example.
Hasanuddin had asked what sort of action would be taken against ministers who make statements on social media that confuse the rakyat.