KOTA KINABALU, June 15 — The spread of fake news cases dropped by 83 per cent during the third movement control order (MCO) 3.0 as compared to MCO 1.0 last year, said Communications and Multimedia deputy minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin.
Zahidi said the decrease meant that the government has succeeded in preventing the spread of false and defamatory news and this had been the result of the government's efforts with the help of the media in combating such news.
"The investigation papers for MCO 3.0 were opened under the Emergency Ordinance of which 26 papers were opened by the police. During the MCO1.0 period 169 cases were lodged with the police as compared to 28 cases lodged during MCO 3.0," he said during Malaysia Hari Ini talk show programme aired on TV3 today on the topic 'Not Sure, Don't Share'.
He said it was important to curb the spread of fake news because it could cause public anxiety, panic and stress, including fear of taking the vaccine.
Meanwhile, he said there were reports of people not present at the vaccine appointment after hearing negative comments and disinformation about the vaccine from anti-vaccine groups and if this is not curtailed the government would not be able to address future problems.
"We only want to prevent the spread of fake news, not manipulate or frame individuals ...some people enjoy spreading fake news without thinking of the consequences and that is why we need to take action against these irresponsible people," he said.
Meanwhile, Zahidi on his Facebook page said several people or parties have been arrested after they were found to have uploaded or spread false news about Covid-19 and the Proclamation of Emergency.
He said that from January 2020 until June 13 this year, a total of 296 cases were also investigated under Section 505 of the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
"In this regard, I would like to call on everyone to use the social media more wisely and mindfully... not everything that you read on the internet is true...make sure that you check the authenticity of the source first," he said.
He also urged the public to make use of the sebenarnya.my portal and the KKMM Quick Response Team alerts to check on the authenticity of a news item, and if they receive fake news involving public or national interests, channel the information to sebenarnya.my/salur/. — Bernama