Beware of fake news


CASES of people brought to court to face charges relating to slander or libel over false or damaging statements on the various platforms of the social media, don’t seem to work.

Stiff penalties meted out, including imprisonment, also seem to have failed to jolt many Internet users who continue to flood the market with all sorts of untruths, fabrications, damaging and false postings.

It’s not wrong, therefore, to say that it has become sort of a social pattern or trend for Internet users, especially those paid ones, these days to upload fake news or false information, containing offensive or indecent statements, about the government and anybody else they deem fit to defame.

The laws against offenders are there but most of the time, purposely ignored to fit their whims and, of course, for cyber troopers, the agenda of their paymasters. Before posting just what you feel like, social media users should remember that the new avalanche of misinformation, during this pandemic period, could actually risk not just our lives but also our economy which is just about to recover from the brink of collapse.

As a pensioner, I could not help it but feel bad for the present Perikatan Nasional government which has been accused of all sorts of things, right from day one it came to power at the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak.

I feel sorry for this government-of-the-day which, until this very day, has to bite the bullet for all criticisms and accusations that befall following trumped-up news or false information that go viral on social media.

Thank goodness, it is still very much intact despite having to govern through probably the most challenging and toughest period of the century amid the sea of fake news and all.

The latest the country was hit by this fake news, which went viral Monday (May 3) on social media, on the so-called arrival of passenger flights from India at the KL International Airport on May 1. We all know that India is in the midst of its worst Covid-19 crisis so far. Of course, such news will definitely cause public unrest, anxiety, panic and anger among Malaysians in general towards the government, amid seismic upheavals it has encountered since last year.

It is good that the Transport Ministry, via Malaysia Airlines, has already lodged two police reports against the claims made by the owner of Facebook account named Muhammad Fahmi Abdullah and another Wan Hilmi Wan Mohd Nor Hilmi. Hopefully, police investigations into this case could serve as a lesson to others not to simply dish out erroneous claims on social media.

Their intentions seem crystal clear – that is to cause panic and confusion among members of the public, indirectly, instilling anger and hatred against the government. Such misinformation is like fire burning vigorously online.

Although this Muhammad Fahmi has apologised to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong but to me, the damage is done. It is too late to prevent the “harmful effects” (anger, hated etc) of what he has committed in as far as the government is concerned. His apology reeks of sheer irresponsibility on his part. It is only right that he and the other person be made to face the brunt of the law.

It is good to hear that the government, through the relevant ministries and agencies, has taken proactive steps to combat the spread of fake news concerning all arising issues during this deadly virus outbreak, with the latter taking actions and providing immediate verifications. The government should not be seen as keeping quiet. Those found guilty must be punished harshly under the existing law.

Causing members of the public to be alarmed and angry as well as distress is no joke. Don’t abuse the freedom granted by the government and stop making our government look bad.

Our conscience must be clear - never ever get involved in spreading false information that will only lead to uneasiness or agitation. We have a war to fight. And we must win.

MOHD ROSLI JAMALUDDIN

Ukay Perdana, Ampang.

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