Thailand gets tough on fake news

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Photo taken on July 31, 2017 shows the scene of a meeting held by Thailand's National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) to hand over its work to the government in Bangkok, Thailand. (Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak)

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – The Defence Ministry and armed forces have been told by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon to take legal action to curb the spread of so-called “fake news” and information online.

Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich spoke about the order after a meeting on Wednesday of the Defence Council chaired by Gen Prawit.

The dissemination of news and information distorted with the intent to provoke violence in society and generate hatred was Gen Prawit’s primary concern and he wants all units of the Defence Ministry as well as those of the armed forces concerned to take part in the monitoring programme.

Aside from the use of social media as a channel to disseminate malicious news and information, certain attempts to exploit the mainstream media to intensify misunderstandings with the apparent aim to incite violence like that which occurred in the past have also been detected, said Lt Gen Kongcheep.

Legal action will be pursued against people behind the dissemination of malicious fake news and information, he said.

If any fake news and information is found to have had an impact on national security or damaged a particular organisation’s reputation, correct information on the matter will have to be made known to the public while legal action is being pursued against the people responsible for spreading it, he said.

Meanwhile, some academics have pointed to the importance of raising awareness about the responsible use of social media and building up a mechanism to promote public scrutiny of the media.

Speaking at a seminar held yesterday on the rights and privacy and roles of the media, Thipphaphon Tanisunthon, director of the Institute of Public Policy Studies (IPPS), said as everyone can now act as if he or she were a member of the media on social media, it’s important to raise awareness about its responsible use.

Some people are exploiting social media as weapons to attack others, she said.

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