Even the savviest of social media users can be vulnerable to misinformation
From Facebook to Whatsapp, there is no shortage of news and information being shared on the daily. But, of course, not everything we read on our phones and devices is true.
Plenty of misinformation — false, inaccurate, or out-of-context content presented as facts — can be found via the Internet and messaging apps, in addition to disinformation, which involves sharing bad or distorted information with an intent to deceive.
According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), a total of 3,111 complaints involving content deemed to be false news were recorded between 2020 and 31 May 2022. More recently, the ministry revealed that it received 1,737 complaints on new media in January 2023 alone.
However, there are ways you can protect yourself and other online users from false news. Here’s what MCMC recommends:
1. Take a moment to think before sharing or forwarding stories
MCMC encourages Malaysians to be responsible digital citizens by modelling appropriate behaviour when online. This includes being willing to learn and discuss digital etiquette with others, both online and in person, as well as insisting on clarification.
If you suspect a friend has shared something that is untrue, for example, ask them if they verified the news before sharing. Similarly, try not to forward or share information before checking if the sources are credible and the content is accurate.
2. Be mindful of what you say online
There is a tendency to exaggerate words when it comes to sharing them virtually, but it can be damaging if what you’re spreading turns out to be a widespread hoax or slanted facts, whether or not you know about the inaccuracies.
Plus, tone can often get lost when people read your words but can’t hear them. You may be saying things jokingly, but it won’t necessarily be clear to the other person, who may take what you say as real.
3. Learn to fact check and identify false information
It is worth knowing how to spot misinformation and disinformation online so you can avoid spreading inaccuracies. False and misleading news has become so rampant online that some organisations have launched initiatives such as the Google News Initiative, factcheck.org, and more.
Used academically to check the objective reliability of information sources, you can try the CRAAP test — which stands for Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose — when gauging news too.
To further spread the stop of falsehoods, MCMC has also created a platform called sebenarnya.my
Launched in 2017, the platform aims to improve media literacy for Malaysians as a whole, as well as strengthen programmes and activities to fight the spread of false information, hate speech, and online scams.
Through the platform, you can verify news, blogs, and websites and check for accurate sources. According to MCMC, a total of 2,862 articles have been published on sebenarnya.my as of December 2022. The articles range in topics aimed to inform the public, from mitigating fake news to ways to be wary of fraudulent activities and scams.
MCMC stresses that any online activity, especially ones that are harmful, can be traced back to the respective users. Suspect something you read online is inaccurate or misleading? You can use sebenarnya.my to verify if it’s true.
Alternatively, you can also make a report through MCMC’s website.