PETALING JAYA: While authorities are mulling heavier penalties to curb the spread of fake news, public consensus on the matter is that Malaysians need to be first made aware and educated on the dangers and consequences of fake news. Student Cindy Cluny said a hefty fine might be the answer in getting people to think before they forward information or news that has not been verified. “But I also think it is important to make Malaysians aware of what (constitutes) fake news and the dangers of spreading it. “Have more campaigns or educational programmes for all,” she said yesterday. It was reported that Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission chief operating officer Datuk Dr Mazlan Ismail (pic) said the current fine of RM50,000 or a jail sentence of up to one year, or both, was insufficient to stop offenders from sharing fake news.
“In my opinion, the fine must be increased to RM500,000 and the jail sentence should be increased to 10 years,” Mazlan was quoted as saying by a Malay daily. Bank employee Raja Shahril Raja Haris agreed with Cluny, saying the authorities should use all platforms available, including social media, to educate people about fake news. Senior citizen Marliah Md Amin also felt there is a need to educate the public because some people may not know that the information they are passing on is not true. “My husband gets many such messages from Whatsapp groups and we don’t know if they are true. “But I agree there is a need for deterrent laws and stiff penalties to stop people who purposely create and spread fake news. “Perhaps a hefty fine can work, but the authorities should also look at other measures especially how to stop false information from spreading,” she said. Student Darshini Gunasagar, 24, said a heavier punishment is necessary to make people think twice before creating fake news.
Student Siti Nor Aisyah Abdul Padzil, 23, suggested that a team of experts should be set up to track fake news items to the source and nab the real culprits. “This might prevent innocent people from being punished (if the fake news did not originate from them),” she added. Another tertiary-level student, who declined to be identified, said the Government should look at the root cause of such fake news being created. “By doing so, it will be able to identify why such fake news is being spread, giving it room to improve where necessary,” he said. – STAR