Week in Review: You are at the frontlines of the war against fake news
By Karamjit Singh June 10, 2018
- Dangerous world when desire to share “hot news” rides roughshod over sense & sensibility
- Reluctantly working on article about unsubstantiated accusations against MDEC CEO
I HAD received two messages from a tech CEO on Fri that he received and forwarded to me. I called him about them for clarification and he said that the two messages, one of which was a video clip, reinforced the unproven slander that the CEO of a particular government agency was guilty of unethical conduct.
As we were speaking I looked up some info and found that the facts didn’t support his belief. I shared this with him but he held on to his view. After our chat I watched the video clip and stopped watching after the 1-minute mark because it was clear that his conclusion from the video was wrong as well. I messaged him about this and he then replied that the CEO’s child was working in a company doing business with the CEO’s agency.
I again checked and found out it was not true. On informing the tech CEO he came back to say it was actually the step-child! I say we need to stop this dangerous habit we are picking up of wanting to immediately share slanderous content or information cast in a negative light. Example of the latter?
On Fri night itself, a member of a group chat I am in shared a post claiming that in 50 years, a particular religion was going to become the dominant religion of particular Asian nation and it ended with the ominous note: “Now that you know this, what are you going to do?”
It took me less than 5-mins to cross check the claims made with current data from the CIA World Factbook and discover that the information was wrong. It was a chilling moment of reflection for me wondering how many people had shared on that message in the 5-mins it took me to double check the claims made.
We clearly live in dangerous times where our desire to want to share “hot news” as quickly as possible rides roughshod over sense and sensibility. And it’s scary when even intelligent people do it. So what can you and I do about it?
How about we ensure the slander and unsupported claims end with you. Or, you spend some time checking for accuracy and then update the person who shared the information with you and urge them to update the person whom they got the message from. Create a reverse chain of truth. But how many of you, dear readers, will want to make the time to check messages for accuracy, even though it would be the right thing, the responsible thing to do? Scary world we live in.
I spent some of the past week working, reluctantly, on an article that was a follow-up to an anonymous and slanderous accusation thrown at Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). Why do I say reluctantly? Because by investigating unsubstantiated accusations, you can inadvertently lend credence to such claims as well. But I went ahead with it because the slander also threatened to smear a national Big Data initiative called ADAX (Asean Data Analytics eXchange).
I spoke about this on DNA’s fortnightly Tech Talk show on BFM and I feel you should listen to that better to understand my reasons. Listen to the podcast from the 30min mark and btw, I realise I kept referring to ADAX as the Asean Data Centre exchange and not by its correct name, Asean Data Analytics eXchange. Oops and ouch!
On that embarrassing note, I hope you had a restful weekend and here’s wishing you a productive week ahead.