The world fears the threat of terrorism, but there is another threat we face. Something considerably less tangible, but equally powerful.
On March 18, 2015, a picture of the Prime Minister’s website announcing the passing of Lee Kuan Yew went viral, causing international news agencies to report it as news.
States Times Review claimed that there was a near zero turnout at former President S. R. Nathan’s funeral, and that kindergarten children were forced to attend, suggesting that he was an unpopular president.
These are examples of some fake news you might have heard going around, and might even have believed. Fake news runs rampant in the world, instilling unease in some, fear in others and a general uncertainty of what to believe.
Thankfully, Singapore’s government is taking steps to fight fake news, one example being working with schools to promote media literacy, to teach children and students how to discern between real news and fake news. Mr Shanmugam also recently announced that a committee of 10 Members of Parliament will be formed to deal with the problem. The S.U.R.E campaign by NLB is also another initiative launched to address the issue.
I believe that Singaporeans should not get overly complacent and should remember that anyone can fall for fake news. We should all play a part in the fight against fake news, by verifying information and content of any news we intend to share with those around us. It also helps to learn how to identify fake news to reduce the chance of being duped.
Going by NLB’s 4-step method to identify fake news, the first step we should take is to look at the source’s origins to make sure it is credible and reliable. Next, we should understand the content and check that the information is fact-based, and not opinion-based. Then, more research should be done, and the information should be compared with other sources before coming to a conclusion. Finally, evaluation of the issue should be done fairly, after comparing different angles of the story. Although this might seem like a rather easy thing to do, it is very easy to simply hit the ‘Share’ button as a reflex after coming across some alarming news. I hope that more Singaporeans will step up and play their part in verifying and refraining from sharing fake news.