The Age Old Problem of 'Fake News'!


Recently it was reported that the government is reviewing Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988 which gave the power to enforce the social media and internet aspects to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).


The government has been relying on this section to curb and monitor 'fake news' from being spread on social media.


Fake news as it turns out, is nothing new or a phenomenon that was invented or emerged recently. According to Wikipedia, fake news is a type of news or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.


We want to share our views talking about fake news. When something like truth is up for debate, there are bound to be those acting for their own selfish interests to promote or propagate 'falsehoods' to their benefits. The mainstream media are not excluded and they could probably be one of the biggest propagators of what we now might call fake news.


Social media has dramatically changed the reach and impact of news as a whole for thousand or hundred of years ago. If one were to look and read up on history, a lot of things we talked about today are not unprecedented. In the year 1870 or thereabouts, the country known as Prussia, ruled by a King and a Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck had this ambition of conquering their neighbour France. However, Bismarck does not want to start a war - he wants France to start it. Thereafter Prussia could claimed that they defended themselves and during the ensuing battle, Prussia will run over France and take over the country thereafter. By doing so, Prussia will not be accused of being the aggressor, harbouring an 'acquisition' agenda.


To create the 'spark' for France to declare war on Prussia, Bismarck manipulated the contents and purposely made public a telegram that was actually issued by the Prussian King to Bismarck, with the intention to offend the French government. The French as anticipated, took the bait and declared war on Prussia.


Depending on an individual’s interpretation, propaganda created by the government to influence public perception is another form of fake news. So are manipulations of real photos or videos to create a false narratives.


The problem arised when non neutral organisations (honestly there are no such organisations existing anywhere in the world) published these stories, providing some realism and balanced reporting and the readers or public will get hooked and believed in it.


The worse are when the stories are 'hijacked and re-purposed' by the politicians in the country i.e., the politicians sought to redefine any reporting they don’t like as fake news. It is public knowledge that most countries maintained a 'disinformation team' whose responsibilities are to create and spread false information with the intention to deceive and or influence public opinion.


Where misinformation refers to inaccuracies that stem from error, disinformation is deliberate falsehood promoted by design. Disinformation is primarily prepared by government intelligence agencies. One of the most notable disinformation made was where subsequent to the 1979 Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan during the Soviet Afghan war, the CIA put false articles in newspapers of Islamic-majority countries, inaccurately stating that Soviet embassies had "invasion day celebrations - aimed to create worldwide anger against the Russians.


Governments everywhere are now saying completely made up news causes a great of confusion about current events.


It now begs the question -  what exactly is fake news and can we spot it?


On 14 Feb 2019, it was disclosed that Open AI. the artificial intelligence research company founded by Elon Musk of Tesla's fame, when fed with just a sentence into the system using data scraped from approximately 8 million web pages created an 8 paragraph story based on that single sentence. This revelation would definitely prompt a debate on fake news and controlling and managing the potential and ability of AI. 



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