TO stop the spread of fake news, Malaysia’s Internet regulator has launched a website to help the public verify the authenticity of “questionable” articles with the authorities.
Sebenarnya.my, which was unveiled on Tuesday by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), is an online tool which allows the public to share unconfirmed news items spread on social media, short messaging services and websites with relevant government agencies.
The authorities will then verify the articles in question and respond to the items swiftly, New Straits Times reported.
In Malay, “sebenarnya” is an adverb which loosely translates to “actually” or “truthfully”. According to Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak, the word is used as the website’s name because it is line with the government’s aim to combat the rampant spread of false news.
“Today’s digital era society spends more than three hours surfing the Internet to obtain news and information,” he was quoted as saying during the launch at MCMC’s headquarters in Cyberjaya, the Malaysian equivalent of Silicon Valley.
“However, fake news has become viral on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Some Internet users take it literally and simply share them without verifying,”
“They are keen to be the first to share the information. Thus, we decided to come out with Sebenarnya.my portal, a one-stop centre for the public to check the authenticity of the news or information.”
He said false news could jeopardise national harmony and security as it could sabotage the economy and create chaos.
“Some may see this as a small matter, but actually fake news has a big impact,” Salleh said.
“For instance, an Internet user spread news a popular figure had passed away, when it is actually a hoax. When this information goes viral, it may cause panic among the victim’s family members or close friends.
“This is just one of the many examples of the impacts of hoaxes. We want the public to be smart and wise Internet users before they spread any information,” he said.
According to Internet Live Stats, a website which tracks live statistics on information technology, including Internet users in the world, some 21 million (68 percent) of Malaysia’s 30.7 million population have access to the Internet.
The launch of the verification site comes amid rumours of early elections. Malaysia’s ruling parties have long been battling a public perception problem, especially among the country’s urbanites who largely back the opposition.
Salleh said, however, the fake news phenomenon was a global issue.
“This does not only happen in Malaysia, but also in the United States, Indonesia and European countries,” he said, as quoted by the Singapore Straits Times (via Bernama).
He said the ministry had traced at least 1,000 fake news items of public interest that have been making rounds on the Internet.