PUTRAJAYA, Dec 22 – The government is constantly striving to find a platform to fend off the spread of fake news online which is growing rampant every day resulting in hatred and confusion among the people against the government.
Among the false news fabricated by irresponsible parties and spread widely is the hikes in oil prices, the electricity tariff which had to be raised to protect Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) from suffering more losses and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) claim that there is no element of corruption in the Sabah State Water Department (JANS) case.
The dissemination of fake news has also prompted the government, through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to develop a portal, “sebenarnya.my”, which is a one-stop centre created to curb the spread of fake online news in March.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said through this portal, the public could check and report dubious news items to the portal to have it verified by official channels or by the relevant government agencies involved.
He was reported to have said that MCMC had actually developed its tagline of “Tidak Pasti Jangan Kongsi” (Not Sure, Don’t Share) following the critical spread of fake news due to the rising number of Internet users, especially social media.
The portal has received 12.75 million hits from users so far. In February, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak also called on the people to combat the spread of fake information, saying that it was a new threat to the country’s well-being.
Najib reportedly said that attacking the mind and emotions through the dissemination of fake news and slander were much more dangerous and was done by certain people to achieve their own political agenda, including toppling the democratically elected government.
MCMC has so far investigated 67 cases of fake news disseminated on social media between January 2016 and September this year, with five cases have been brought to court. During the corresponding period, a total of 1,861 websites, portals and blogs had been blocked for spreading content, information and fake news that can trigger confusion and disharmony in the country’s multi-racial and multi-religious people.
In October, consumers were shocked by the report on personal data leakage involving 46.2 million mobile phone subscribers in the country. The report, published on the Lowyat.net site, disclosed an alleged theft of personal data for sale, but Salleh said discussions had been conducted with all relevant parties to further enhance the security level of personal data and that Lowyat.net had been asked to remove the speculative news.
At the same time, MCMC chief operating officer Datuk Dr Mazlan Ismail said the matter was still under police investigation and there was nothing to worry about as MCMC always prioritised the security of personal data of Malaysians. MCMC is also working with the police to conduct an investigation so that immediate action can be taken to resolve the issue, he said.
Meanwhile, the ministry has also been active in promoting the development of technology applications with the Big Data Analytics (BDA) approach to boost the growth of the digital economy in the country. The ministry, in collaboration with the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDeC), as the leading national-level implementation of the BDA, had initiated a pilot Public Sector Big Data project in 2015.
The implementation of the pilot project and the latest analysis using this data will enhance the government’s ability to make informed decisions based on facts that meet regional and international needs, thus addressing the 2050 National Transformation (TN50) initiative and towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In October, Najib also introduced the ‘Cloud First’ Strategy or First Cloud Computing to be introduced in the national agenda, starting with the public sector, to accelerate the digital economy.
Najib said the use of the strategy would enable the government to immediately implement innovative public sector services without involving high capital spending to invest in Information Technology (IT) infrastructure such as data centres, servers and data storage. This allows the government to allocate resources for programmes that would impact the people. — Bernama