There are just too many lies on the Internet nowadays, which has morphed me into a cynic whenever I read what is being shared online. FILE PIC

LIAR, liar, pants on fire. At the rate fake news is being spread nowadays, firemen will be busy putting out the flaming pants.

There are just too many lies on the Internet nowadays, which has morphed me into a cynic whenever I read what is being shared online.

Apparently, fake news was named 2017’s word of the year — not a joke. I’m surprised the term did not make the list earlier.

Some of the fake news that deserve a facepalm moment includes a hippopotamus that has been accused of raping a 400lbs (181kg) woman after escaping from a zoo.

Such news articles may be easy for us to weed out as fake, but there are those that are well crafted to fool many. And, these spread like wildfire via social media platforms. These news have been a thorn in the side of many governments, including in
Putrajaya.

It’s an uphill battle which requires every ministry's information and communication division to be fast in debunking fake news. Speed is paramount.

Social media such as Facebook were reported to be pulling all the stops to identify fake news, but it took three days for fact checkers to verify a story. Three days, unfortunately, is too late to stop a story from going viral.

Malaysia is considering a new law to curb the spread of fake news, which has caused much pain, anger, anguish, sorrow and horror for many who are directly affected by them.

Aside from using the law to address fake news, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are using the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) to assess how well children can spot fake news. The new “global competence test” is reported to be carried out alongside maths, reading and science.

OECD education director Andreas Schleicher told the Education World Forum in London recently: “The only way to get serious — the only way to get started with this issue — is to look at the truth.

“That’s the aim of Pisa, to confront the real world, not the world of words and beautiful theory.”

The business of faking is assuming dangerous dimensions. Of late, bad hats are using “photoshop” softtware to make images of innocent people look like pornographic stars. Just imagine the damage it can cause to a person’s reputation.

Nicole Lee of Engadget has raised such dangers in her article, “Fake porn is the new fake news, and the Internet isn’t ready”.

She also highlighted the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to create and spread videos of politicians or public figures saying things they never said.

“It would be fake news taken to a dystopian extreme,” said Lee.

azuraa@nst.com.my

With more than 15 years in journalism and a masters in Counselling Psychology, the writer is always drawn to the mystery of the human mind and behaviours.

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