Fewer fake news stories on Covid-19

GREATER awareness among Malaysians has led to a decrease in fake news on Covid-19 and vaccines over social media, says Tan Sri Annuar Musa.

The Communications and Multimedia Minister said that overall, the spread of fake news on social media had been reduced compared to when the vaccination programme was first launched.

“Greater 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,” he said in response to a question from Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun (PN-Beaufort) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He said the ministry, though the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), had carried out 83 advocacy campaigns through the Malaysia ICT Volunteer programme last year, while this year, there were 25 campaigns so far.

He added that the “rapid response team” set up to tackle fake news on social media platforms had dealt with fewer cases this year.

“In 2020, the rapid response team had to counter a total of 416 fake news items on social media whereas there have been 63 cases so far (this year),” said Annuar.

He noted that the MCMC had also set up the portal Sebenarnya.my to provide accurate information and debunk fake news.

However, he acknowledged there were still a small number of fake news items being spread that also involved medical practitioners.

To tackle this, he said the police had opened 307 investigations papers related to fake news on Covid-19 between March last year and September this year.

He added that 163 cases had since been resolved while 37 cases were brought to court.

Another 114 cases are still under investigation.

He also assured Datuk Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus (PH-Ulu Langat) that no one was above the law, including ministers.

“I too myself have been issued summonses on two occasions for breaching the standard operating procedure,” said Annuar.

Hasanuddin asked what action would be taken against ministers who make statements on social media that confuse the rakyat.

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