Following the Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak that first started end of December 2019, a lot of “news” carrying lesser weight than a paper about the newfound virus and remedies spread faster than the virus itself! Information is so easily accessible that producing false information has also become just as easy. Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act stipulates that, any sort of cyber-crime if convicted may get fined up to fifty thousand ringgit (RM50,000) or one year jail time. Here are some tips to verify any news you receive via online, WhatsApp or the social media.
Check the source
More often than not, we tend to read the headlines first without even going through the content, and if we did, we do not check the source or authenticity of such a report. An extensive report must be created by someone and shared through a legit platform because they have a responsibility in spreading the said information. If there are none or it seems sketchy, dismiss it immediately as you do not want to be caught circulating fake news from unverified sources.
Check if it’s on other sites
A quick check at your preferred search engine on the news you’re reading takes less than a minute. If it’s actual news, even if it’s a breaking news or exclusive news, it would be carried in other different mainstream and legit news sites too. If you can’t find the news anywhere else, chances are it is fake. If the news are local, try doing a cross check via https://sebenarnya.my/ a one-stop website launched by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in 2017 that verify news and viral updates.
Check for any fake images
A lot of fake news re-uses a lot of images that sometimes might be backdated to decades ago! Doctored images are fairly easy to create nowadays through a lot of software. So if an image is a little too bizarre; high chances are it is fake. If you want to be extra careful, reverse image search could help you find the source to any images you have on hand. Search results would show websites that hosted the images and you can make your judgment from there.
The onus is on the public to check the validity and the facts of a news report, or now trending, social media and WhatsApp messages that people post and forward around like gospel truth. This is to ensure that the number of fake news can be reduced or totally stopped.