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The Battle with Fake News: Governmental Preventive and Combative Measures

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Yasmine Yahya mentioned that “Government intervention requires a careful balance”. With the increase use in social technology such as Facebook, Twitter as well as the use of WhatsApp, with just one click of sharing button, online falsehood spreads at a lightning speed (Deb Roy, Sinan Aral, and Soroush Vosoughi, 2017) as compared to authentic news. Considering that Singapore’s technology are advancing rapidly over the years, the government should not consider passing more laws to rule out and go up against online fabrication. Online falsehood is defined as expressing thoughts, or sharing of misinterpreted information with the use of computer or even our smart phones. The term is also called “fake news” online which are commonly used in the population. There are various ways to distort the information such as swaying people’s untrue opinions on the government. In conjunction with that, it can also cause tension and dispute among different races and religious especially in Singapore where we are living in a multi-racial country. Some may unintentionally post or share articles without checking the validness of the articles especially in social media such as Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram when news are easily accessible.

From time to time, WhatsApp message regarding a certain news will circulate like a flash without checking the authenticity of the message. In India, a false WhatsApp message was spread that “people disguised as beggars walking around the streets to kill people for their organs” (Anonymous, 2018). It was something shocking to the readers, which causes them to spread the message in a haste without checking the genuineness of the articles, until someone actually step forward to rectify it. Likewise, reading blogs which only displays their one-sided views and not from official website may also cause an uproar and that results in the spreading of online falsehood. The present law has allowed them to prevent and combat online falsehood. One of the laws in Section 45: Telecommunications Act, anyone who transmitted false messages will get either fine or imprisonment.

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There are a few paradigms that happened in FairPrice such as “Halal” pork section, FairPrice Jasmine fragrant rice made of plastic and spreading messages of giving out gift cards in FairPrice (Yuen Sin, 2018). Police reports were made and certain authorities such as Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) were called in. This allows them to solve the issue in an amicable and in a timely manner without escalating further. Alongside with that, criminal defamation act states that if anyone delivers a falsehood in which will harm or embarrassed another party will be punished. Such example is when US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her chief of staff were running a group of people who take part in illegal sexual activities involving children at pizza restaurant in Washington DC. This caused the credibility of Hillary Clinton and her chief of staff to be severely affected. There are cases of death threats happening to them (Bharati Jagdish, 2018). Hence, this has shown that the issues was resolved in a timely manner with the use of law now. Implementing new laws can be counter-productive. Human beings (Katie, 2018) is the source of the online falsehood as we tend to just click the ‘share’ button without explicitly knowing the fact.

On top of that, an experiment done by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also revealed that news that are considered the truth travels at a relatively slower speed as compared to online falsehood. An example would be the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing (Katie, 2018). Therefore, it will not solve the problem if we were to imposed new law as the community is the main factor to contributing to online fabrication. Last but not least, freedom of speech will also be affected in the long run. People will not have the freedom to express their feelings or ideas of a certain issues. This will possibly cause the country’s development to stay stagnant over a couple of years. For example, during an election year, the people would not be given the freedom to voice out their opinions online. The citizens might feel afraid to voice out suggestions or opinions or even expressing their feelings over a certain idea as they fear they might get accused of spreading online falsehood online. Thus, people might get sensitive over what is posted online. On top of everything, careers can get affected especially journalist who writes articles based on their own or people opinions’ might also be falsely charged. From the public’s point of view, it will be seen as the government trying to ensure that complainants are being kept quiet (Ang Ying Ying, 2018). Consequently, affecting the trust between the government and the public. Yet, the government should also enact more laws to prevent and combat online falsehood. As social media is an ascending platform for us to attain news from all around the world, numerous laws should be put into effect to combat online falsehood in our ever growing social technology. As the society tends to just retweet or share contents’ that speaks their mind or opinion, there is no cross check if the news is valid or another make-believe news. For the above reasons, with new laws created, it will help in preventing and combatting online falsehood.

Additionally, with technology advancing at a very accelerating rate, more diversified laws are needed. Rather than executing added laws, we should focus on cultivating the public on online falsity. Developing the country awareness by creating workshops, brochure awareness or even having a public talk in schools or even public institutions are some of the recommendation. This is much more beneficial as compared to enacting more laws. Together with that, it allows the nation to think critically on what to share, and not to share. Sometimes, what they share unintentionally may affect someone’s bowl of rice for the family.


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