Fake news on the loose

Please verify the news via gov’t official website prior to sharing or forwarding it to others

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE spread of fake news related to the Covid-19 virus does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon despite warnings from the government and police.

Strict punishments await those who are found guilty of spreading fake news like dubious prevention methods, debatable homemade cures and alleged virus hotspots that have spread panic among the public.

Various social media platforms have been the primary medium with users only having to copy and paste, or share and forward the fake news to other users.

However, it is now easy to trace the authenticity of the news or information. Users can check it via the official websites of the Health Ministry or the Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM).

There is also the sebenarnya.my portal, developed by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which acts as a one-stop centre for Malaysians to verify news that they are unsure of.

Yesterday, KKMM clarified in a statement on several fake news that became viral in the social media.

The first was on Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob who denied claims that those detained for defying the Movement Control Order (MCO) are placed together in a lock-up.

The truth is that they have been dealt with according to the stipulated standard operating procedure which emphasises on social distancing.

Other clarifications made included the Pahang Social Welfare Department denying assertions that there are district hotlines for Covid-19 aid during MCO, and the Kulim District Health Office denying a TF Value Mart employee has been infected with the virus.

The danger of fake news is that some carry xenophobic tones. For example, the National Security Council have denied is that the country is facing an outbreak of robbers among illegal immigrants and that foreign workers are infecting each other with Covid-19.

Another piece of fake news went viral after the announcement of the Prihatin Nasional economic stimulus package, with claims that those communities could not obtain treatment without assistance from the package.

These claims must be addressed swiftly as they can create panic among the public, as seen recently when TV1 had reportedly announced that Ramadhan bazaars this year have been cancelled nationwide which was later addressed by Radio Televisyen Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Pos Malaysia Bhd also refuted allegations that it is offering 1,000 units of Apple iPhone 11 Pro through a loyalty programme.