Have you ever read an article or post that gave you falsified information or something that isn’t clearly true, but is masked as such?
A lot of things you read online, especially on your Facebook feed, may appear as viable information, but is often not. Fake news is running rampant due to the uncontrollable growth of social platforms and internet availability, deliberately created to influence, misinform, deceive, and primarily push a political agenda. The confusion caused by fake new stories is derived from the appearance of trusted websites or using similar names of reputable web addresses or news organizations. This completely changes how we consume the information given, since traditionally everyone received their news from trusted sources, journalists, and media outlets that are required to follow strict codes of conduct. Now, countless individuals have a difficult time knowing whether a story is credible or not, and this within itself pushes the notion of “fact-checking” and raises the editorial standards on the content made.
Fake news can be spread in various ways, and there are different types that you should know about:
Click-bait or “click on me”
Propaganda or “the political agenda”
Satire/ Parody or “it’s all jokes”
Sloppy Journalism or “why even bother”
Misleading Headings or “that makes no sense whatsoever…”
So, with that said, what laws help and/or stop the spread of fake news?
Well in America, the First Amendment protects the citizens’ rights to freely exchange ideas-even false or controversial ones; so, if the government passed laws outlawing fake news, it could lead to a chilling spiral of censorship, that of which many people disagree with. Today’s primary option is a defamation lawsuit, or in other words, if the published information contains false facts about you, caused you to suffer direct damage as a result (lost job, decline in revenue, or tarnished reputation) you can sue the creator of that content, but you must show that the news outlet was negligent (careless).
In Malaysia, on the other hand, a recent fake-news law has gone into effect and has a plethora of journalists worried. The act, passed by Malaysia’s parliament in early April, makes publishing fake news punishable by a fine of more than $100,000 and up to six years in jail. This generally covers any reports published that relate to Malaysia, or even a Malaysian citizen, nationally overseas. Seems farfetched, but what has journalist’s shaken is that the law is clearly predicated on silencing any criticism of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government, particularly the 1MDB scandal, which concerns Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Earlier this week a Danish citizen in Malaysia, Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, pleaded guilty to the controversial Anti-Fake News Act after posting a YouTube video claiming Malaysian police took 50 minutes to respond to an emergency call, when it was inspected to be eight minutes. He was sentenced to a month in jail since he could not pay the fine of $2,500.
However, Malaysia isn’t the only country that wants to have a say in the semantics of truth and falsehoods, as several European nations, including France, are drafting their own bills to date.
Nobody wants to trust and believe in false content, especially if it was shared by a friend on social media, but how do we stop those who spread it?
Criminalizing them for their negligence? What do you think? Share your thoughts on your social page to educate others on the topic.
To read more on the first person convicted under Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Law- click here.
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