The Information Ministry yesterday told government officials to address fake news on Facebook before it becomes widely shared by users.
“Our officials need to respond to the fake news and use facts to combat it,” Minister Khieu Kanharith told hundreds of government officials yesterday during a Facebook community workshop in Phnom Penh.
“What all officials need to understand is the ability to [promptly] respond to questions and how we settle issues,” Mr Kanharith said. “That is important – and do not fear any criticism.”
“It is important to consider to whom a Facebook account belongs to when responding to the public,” he added. “Our officials do not use [social media] to criticise other people who do not support the government.”
Mr Kanharith said fake news provokes harm not only in Cambodia but also the rest of the world.
“In this era of technology, we need to combat fake news, insults, hateful incitement, discrimination and the hacking of public institutions and high-ranking people because those things cause harm in society and the region,” he said. “As a member of the Cambodian government, I hope Facebook can deal with the issues Cambodia has met.”
Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, yesterday said government officials still cannot effectively respond to fake news.
Mr Bona said they cannot also explain to the public what real news is.
“Everyone has a Facebook account, but what is important is how government officials can curb fake news and explain real news to the public quickly,” he said. “We see that government officials do not follow up on news stories and they do not respond to fake news.”
Fake news is an issue of concern in Cambodia.
During the 16th Asia Media Summit in Siem Reap province in June, Cambodia and other Asian countries initiated a regional mechanism to combat the fake news.
Last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen said government officials monitoring social media accounts can pinpoint a user’s location and identity in under eight minutes.
He said officials monitor users making undesirable comments online.
He noted that in the interest of national security, technology has become a critical tool in identifying online critiques, even outside of the country.
In August, Interior Minister Sar Kheng assigned a working group to monitor the Facebook pages of Mr Hun Sen and the Interior Ministry.
Cambodia is also aiming to no longer rely on Vietnam and Thailand for bandwidth and access to the international internet gateway.
“Right now, we cannot protect our country. We need to do it now, otherwise, it will be like having a house without a fence. We also need to tax gateway operations as well,” Mr Hun Sen said in October. “When we have access to our own gateway, we can control data and transmission very fast, especially in terms of security.”