The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has called on all ministries and journalists to prevent fake news from spreading in a bid not to confuse the public.
Kan Channmeta, secretary of state at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, said yesterday that the ministry could not act alone in the fight against the spread of fake news.
“It is a crime that we must fight against together,” Mr Channmeta said, noting that the ministry would work with relevant ministries to create a law and procedures to punish those who produced and spread fake news.
“If an action is deemed a crime, we will be able to punish the people who commit it,” Mr Channmeta said.
Huy Vannak, undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry and president of the Union of Journalist Federations in Cambodia, said that fake news should be called “poisoned news or rubbish news” because it devalued people.
“Rubbish news then gets spread by other syndicates and it is a big concern,” he said.
Mr Vannak cited fake news that recently spread after a clash between villagers and local authorities over a land dispute in Kratie province’s Snuol district where six people were initially reported as being shot dead.
Tin Sopheak, one of the villagers in Snuol district’s Pi Thnou commune, who was interviewed by Radio Free Asia on the night of the incident on March 12, said that she saw six men shot dead and more than 40 villagers injured.
But later, in front of a court prosecutor, she admitted that she spread disinformation. “It is ‘rubbish news’ and it is very dangerous,” Mr Vannak said, adding that fake news resulted in chaos in society.
Mr Vannak said that reporters should be professionals and verify all news before it is published on air and in print.
“I appeal to all journalists to join in preventing fake news,” Mr Vannak said.
Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said yesterday that all journalists should verify news and double-check it before publishing.
“When reporters interview sources, they should consider and compare the news between one source and another,” Mr Bona said.
“We cannot use only one source because it is unclear, so we need to check it with other sources to compare with the first one,” Mr Bona said, noting that broadcasting fake news could make a company and journalists lose their reputations.