Fake news seems to be a global pandemic, and countries in Southeast Asia are facing similar battles with it. The widespread circulation of fake or hoax news online is one of the biggest challenges nowadays in countries like Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and more. With the limitless power of technology, the dissemination of false information becomes handy and easy.
In the article 'Indonesians Love to Share Fake News: Media Monitoring Agency', our very own Luciana Budiman, Isentia's Jakarta country general manager, shares data showing that Indonesia is no exception when it comes to rampant dissemination of hoax news, particularly during election periods.
But what are these countries doing to prevent people from sharing fake news, and how will they stop 'trolls' and 'fraudsters' from maliciously spreading false information?
In the Philippines, Senator Joel Villanueva formally filed a bill that aims to penalise offenders who maliciously create and spread hoax news.
The proposed Senate Bill 1492 defines false news or information as, "those who either intend to cause panic, division, chaos, violence, and hate, or those who exhibit propaganda to blacken or discredit one's reputation."
Filipino journalists also launched the Fakeblok app to help rid all social channels of fake news. The fake news blocker is a Chrome plug-in that sanitises Facebook newsfeeds from fake news sites.
According to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, “Filipino journalists have been working together to come up with a list of sites that tend to share fake news – and a tool that would make this helpful to the public.”
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that laws tackling fake news would be introduced next year. He shared a survey citing strong support from Singaporeans to ensure the removal and correction of fake news.
According to Minister Shanmugam, the spread of false information poses “the serious threat of inciting hatred in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.”
After the simultaneous regional elections in Jakarta where fake news bombarded users online, the government became involved in preventing it. Indonesia’s coordinating minister for politics, law and security affairs, Wiranto, said the government would enforce laws against those involved in distributing fake news.
There are also committees working to remove negative web content and distribute more positive social media.
Despite the initiative of government offices to fight the pandemic of fake news, some media groups, particularly in the Philippines, are not totally in favour of the bill because of its broad terms. They believe that its loopholes can be abused by anyone in a government position.
They also said that media literacy and self-regulation are the two keys to preventing the sharing of fake news – if only all people were capable of filtering what’s legit and what's not.
Since it will be a long battle, for now let’s all be an advocate of the truth, and learn to refine hoax news on social by following these simple steps.
"Educating people to be more media literate will take time, but the payoff is definitely worth it. We need people to be able to distinguish between hoax and the actual news." – Luciana Budiman