Malaysiakini
OPINIONS

Here’s how to spot fake news

Zan Azlee

Published
Modified 16 Mar 2017, 3:59 pm

This week, Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak launched a new website called Sebenarnya.my. It aims to help the public determine whether a certain piece of “news” being circulated online is fake or true.

A collaboration between the ministry and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the website attempts to provide verification and confirmation on trending news stories in cyberspace.

Head to the website and you will notice that it has a series of articles. Each article highlights one particular fake news.

Take for example, a Facebook posting claiming that a certain brand of paracetamol is actually made from tissue paper. Sebenarnya.my states that the Health Ministry denied ever discovering any such ‘tissue-paper’ paracetamol in the market. And that’s it. It’s a listing of fake news with a sentence or paragraph explaining why this is so.

Here is another example of a fake news that the website helped debunk. Social media was rife at one point with a story about a woman being swallowed by a python in Kulim, Kedah. The acting district police chief said they did not receive such a report.

I’m sure that it being a government-linked website, Sebenarnya.my makes the attempt to verify such news and information with the relevant authorities. But it just seems too arbitrary a process to warrant a website to be formed and managed by a government ministry and agency.

And the website itself seems so bare-bones that it looks like it is being managed by a single individual who has nothing better to do other than to scour the Internet for obvious fake news and debunking it.

Anyway, there already exists legit news organisations with professional journalists on their teams that report, highlight and verify news that are important, significant and newsworthy enough to be published.

It is not very difficult to actually tell that news like these are fake. Let me as a journalist give you some tips and advice on how to spot a fake news story...

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