Singapore – A group of journalists and media professionals hailing from several dozen countries attended a conference here to seek a way to deal with fake news.
Sunetra Choudhury, political editor of New Delhi Television, said during the East-West Centre’s International Media Conference that in India, fake news was literally killing.
Ms Choudhury said that in the past two months, ten people were killed after rumours and fake news spread on What’s App.
She said that fake news items showing a video clip of a man kidnapping a child led to a public lynching of the man because they thought he was the kidnapper.
“Politicians also create fake news for political ends,” Ms Choudhury added. “I think news organisations need to have strong fact-check or research teams even if they are strapped for revenue.”
“This is necessary to step up to this new challenge, which is a dangerous trend,” she added.
Ung Chamroeun, editor of Thmey Thmey online in Cambodia, said that the media should double check facts before publishing news.
“The media organisation must check the facts to avoid fake news and top protect our reputation and with readers,” Mr Chamroeun said. “Society will be chaotic if fake news is spread by reporters that are not trying to find the truth and just believe what pops up on social media.”
Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information in Singapore, said that fake news was a solvable problem, but acknowledged the difficulty of tackling it with legislation.
“We are sharpening and shaping our response to make sure we hit the right point where it remains possible for people to come into the space and generate new products,” Mr Puthucheary said. “It remains possible for journalists to engage in their profession with an increasing degree of seriousness and confidence that their platforms will be trusted.”
Alvin Tan, head of Public Policy for Asean, Malaysia and Singapore at Facebook, said that it was difficult to enforce laws in all countries that use Facebook.
“The issue of fake news is multifaceted, and legislation is an imperfect tool to deal with the issue,” Mr Alvin said.
In Cambodia, there have been several cases of false news being spread across various internet platforms such as Facebook.
In March, unverified online reports said that six villagers were shot dead during a land dispute in Kratie province, a rumour later dismissed by government officials.
Huy Vannak, president of the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia, said that those who create fake news use sensationalist and fabricated headlines to confuse readers.
“Fake news destroys our moral responsibility, destroys our positive thinking, and it can be used as an agent to destabilise and destroy a society politically and economically,” Mr Vannak said.