21 Aug 2023, The Sun Daily
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has reminded the public to beware of spreading fake news.
“MCMC received a total of 1,207 complaints in 2021 and 658 last year regarding fake news. Of these, the sebenarnya.my portal identified 110 articles in 2021 and 45 last year that spread fake news,” its spokesman told theSun, adding that fake news occurs on every social media platform.
“Most people read their news on social media platforms and messaging app. This is where the most number of fake news items are propagated.
“Hence, we are actively taking measures to promote digital literacy among the public. This is key to managing fake news mainly because social media and the internet have become a medium that almost everyone uses. People need to learn how to use it responsibly,” he said.
He added that MCMC has taken proactive measures to foster cyber awareness and encourage internet users to practise self-regulation.
“Initiatives such as ‘Klik Dengan Bijak’ and Malaysia ICT Volunteers have been set up by MCMC to promote the use of the internet in a safe, responsible and vigilant environment.”
The commission emphasised that the main goal in addressing the issue of fake news is embracing the practice of verifying information.
“As digital citizens, media literacy goes beyond awareness. Users must be vigilant about verifying information before sharing it.
“They must practise critical thinking skills when evaluating the accuracy, perspective and validity of digital media,” he said.
Meanwhile, Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin from the Centre of Media and Information Warfare Studies cited a paper published this June by the University of Cambridge.
It used the “Misinformation Susceptibility Test” involving 8,000 participants and found that the most susceptible groups were those under 30 who spent most of their time online.
“Youths were found to be more susceptible to misinformation. But it is their responsibility to grow into a strong generation that cannot be easily influenced or deceived,” he said.
Noor Nirwandy, who is also a Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) senior lecturer at the Centre of Media and Information Warfare Studies, said there are a few key factors that make youth more susceptible to fake news.
“Some youths perceive being first to share news as a competition and they experience an adrenaline rush in doing so. It becomes a silent addiction to disseminate news that they believe must be shared.”
However, he said the sheer quantity of information at the fingertips of youths makes it harder to discern between what is fake and true.
“The line between satire and reality is blurred. Youths may be incapable of discerning real from fake. The lack of reference centres in Malaysia makes it harder for them to verify information.”
Noor Nirwandy said fake news can also threaten national security.
“Fake news can trigger panic and racial disharmony among citizens. It may be particularly dangerous when society departs from the national identity of the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara, especially when there are extreme ideological shifts.”
To avoid this, he said youths need to be a few steps ahead in understanding the consequences of spreading fake news.
“Identify if the news carries underlying motives and use critical thinking skills to decide if the news is worth sharing,” he said.