Try this: True or False

Jun 19, 2017 05.32PM |

by Johannes Tjendro

CAN we really believe everything we see on the Internet? The answer is obviously “no”. In practice though, it is not always clear what is fake and what is real.

Here are some recent examples we have found of news that made rounds on social media and messaging apps, such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Guess which one is true and which one is false:

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1. Satay made of dog and cat meats at Bazaar Ramadhan 2017


2. No cash issued from your CPF after your death


3. $200 fine if you throw tissue “into bowl, on plate, or cup” 


Be careful if you thought any of them were true – they are all fake. But you are not alone if you could not tell that they were false.

According to a poll by the G, “around two-thirds [of Singaporeans] could not recognise fake news when they first saw it. And only around half are confident of their own ability to recognise fake news,” said Minister for Law and Home Affairs Mr K. Shanmugam earlier at a conference today (June 19). The two-day conference on fake news co-organised by The Straits Time opened this morning.

This warrants our concern, given that as many as “around 75 per cent of Singaporeans came across fake news at least occasionally”, and of the 75 per cent, a third of them “came across fake news frequently”.  Around 25 per cent also “shared information they later discovered to be false”, said Mr Shanmugam. Facebook and WhatsApp are cited as the platforms where people most often chanced upon fake news.

The Minister pointed out that these findings followed upon an increasingly worrying global trend of fake news spreading on the web, and a public that is not sufficiently discerning in their social media consumption (and production via sharing). This trend, dubbed “the rapid spread of misinformation online”, was identified by the World Economic Forum in 2014 as the top tenth trend in terms of global significance.

Significantly, one of the biggest fake news that has ever broken in Singapore was the hoax on the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. It happened on March 18, 2015, when a Singaporean student created a fake copy of a government website and posted a false announcement that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had passed away. Mr Lee died five days later.

Minister Shanmugam highlighted that “established news outlets like CNN and China’s CCTV fell for the hoax”. He also added that while “the news outlets did not intend to misinform… unintentional fake news can cause harm too”.


Featured image by Sean Chong.

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