The Information Ministry yesterday called on journalists to combat fake news disseminated online during a workshop on “Combatting Fake News for Cambodian Journalists” in Phnom Penh.
Sponsored by the United States embassy in Cambodia and organised by Thmey Thmey news, the workshop aimed to educate journalists on how to prevent and combat the spread of fake news.
Meas Sophorn, an undersecretary of state for the Information Ministry, said rapid growth in technology has benefited society, but that growth also presented new challenges when dealing with the spread of false or misleading information.
“In the Cambodian context, fake news is becoming a major concern, requiring the government, development partners, stakeholders and journalists to work together to combat the spread of fake news,” he said. “Fake news can harm national defence, security, relations with other countries, the national economy, public order, and national culture and traditions.”
Mr Sophorn said that the ministry will continue to strengthen the management of the information sector to prevent fake news.
In addition, the ministry will also cooperate with the Interior and Posts Ministries to prepare a joint declaration to monitor sources of fake information.
Leang Delux, executive director of Thmey Thmey news, said fake news has become a subject of global concern.
“While we sit here, there is probably fake news being published,” Mr Delux said. “Fake news can be about politics, the economy or culture – fake news causes chaos in society.”
He noted that professional journalists play an important role in helping to educate the public, while at the same time preventing and combatting fake news.
Mr Delux said journalists must gain expertise and knowledge to verify sources of information.
Michael Newbill, US embassy deputy chief of mission, said a country cannot develop if the government is not transparent, noting that critical thinkers must not be fed a diet of propaganda.
“Citizens will lose their ability to battle the spread of false information,” Mr Newbill said. “It’s an assault on the truth and we must fight back.”
Mr Sophorn said as of July, Cambodia has 418 newspapers, 189 magazines, 20 newsletters, 216 websites, 338 radio stations, 22 television stations and 113 cable television stations operating.