Resolving Roots Of Fake News And Not Just The Symptoms

by Patrick Liew on January 9, 2018

A full scale investigation has been mounted to find out if Russia had used a combination of covert human agents and autobots to micro-target and manipulate voters’ opinions to influence outcomes of the 2016 presidential election.

That investigation may have major implications on not just the United States but also on the free world.

The lesson for Singapore is that we are not shielded from cyber threats by forces from within the country and without.

The authorities will have to step up their vigilance and efforts against these online influences and ensure that these influences do not not affect our security and stability.

Take for example many of the fake news from overseas about the Singapore-China relations.

Despite clarifications by our authorities and local press, there are still many Singaporeans who seem to believe another version or the other side of the story.

They form a position on that basis and are influencing people on the Net to tarnish our image and challenge our government’s foreign policy.

Some of the emotionally-charged online messages are beset with more lies, half truths, and other misinformation.

The authorities should explore ways to nip negative influences by its bud and prevent them from being spread to the public.

To do so, the authorities can improve the way they communicate truths and respond promptly to any misunderstanding and undue reaction.

They should look at ways to educate our people on how to research, think critically, and make better-informed judgements.

Key stakeholders from the public, private and people sectors can be roped in to help communicate vital messages, correct misinformation, and provide feedback to the relevant authorities.

Fact-checking systems can be set up to verify critical information and rate credibility and reliability of various sources of information.

The authorities should be prepared to take recalcitrants to task for deliberately spreading fake news, restrict or stop their sources of income, and if possible highlight their actions to the public.

They should explore ways to block fake news or tag these news wherever they appear on cyberspace.

In a highly interconnected world, cyber threats can cause major damages and affect progress of the country.

The authorities can cut lifelines of companies and individuals that promote and propagate fake news by restricting or stopping their revenues from advertisements and other sources of income.

Relevant governmental agencies should be prepared to take recalcitrants and their supporters to task and even press criminal charges against them.

Key stakeholders from the public, private and people sectors can set up fact-checking systems to verify vital information and rate credibility and reliability of social media sites.

They can also look into flagging and tagging sites that deliberately create and spread fake news and ensure that the tagging stays with these sites and fake news wherever they appear on social media spaces.

Explore possibilities of developing a “name and shame” database of recalcitrants so that all stakeholders can help to pressure them and stop the malpractice.

Technologies should be created to prevent fake news from being shared and even after they’ve been shared, these falsehoods can be deleted, corrected or tagged.

Consumers can be forewarned prior to them viewing these fake news or cautioned after they have viewed these news when they are found to be fake.

Just as importantly, the authorities should educate our people, from young to know how to research, think critically, and be discerning about credibility and reliability of the sources of information.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

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