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Destructive power of internet lies must not be underestimated

  • While it is admittedly very difficulty to get people not to believe in Internet lies, government institutions and private companies can still win back the public's trust by dealing with such lies honestly and candidly in a bid to minimize the destruction.

Sin Chew Daily

It has been rumored that five Chinese nationals are holding MyKads and the national registration department has issued a MyKad to a Chinese woman. These two pieces of news are both fake, but unfortunately they have been circulated over and again on the cyberspace.

JPN has clarified more than once but this does not help put the rumors in check. A police report has since been lodged.

News of five Chinese nationals holding Malaysian ICs was actually a document counterfeit case back in 2015. The case was subsequently handled by the MACC but irresponsible individuals have somehow managed to modify the content to lie about Chinese nationals granted Malaysian ICs.

As for the Chinese woman issue with a MyKad, she is actually married to a Malaysian man and has been granted citizenship after meeting all the requirements.

Irresponsible people have attempted to smear the reputation of the authorities by distorting the facts and creating a false impression that the authorities are opening the door wide to welcome foreigners, with the intention of raising an issue.

In the cyberspace, such unverified information has strong appeals to the public, who will keep sharing it without seeking to clarify whether what has been reported is true. They have little idea that they have actually made themselves partners of crime by helping to spread the lies.

Given the ultra connectivity of the Internet, misinformation gets spread at the speed of light through the social media. The damage has already been done even before the information eventually gets verified or authenticated.

It is a very serious allegation for the JPN to deliberately issue citizenships to foreigners against the country's laws. The repeated clarifications made by the authorities have unfortunately failed to rival the speed of spreading lies, as the people are more inclined to believe in what their fellow social media users are claiming.

It is very hard for unsuspecting web users to tell the authenticity of a piece of news circulating in the Internet, and the established preconception in them will further consolidate their trust. Even though the case is subsequently clarified by the authorities, they still choose to ignore the truth.

Indeed, it is not easy to change the people's perception once a prejudged position has been established.

Internet lies were listed as one of the major risks encountered by the world in World Economic Forum's global risks report 2013. Internet lies can bring down the credibility and reputation of a government institution or corporate entity, as in the case of JPN.

Irresponsible people will bank on the enormous propagation powers of social media as well as the strong cohesiveness of web users to advance their ill intentions.

Such lies are extremely destructive and may create havoc to an otherwise peaceful society.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Al-Haj has reminded Malaysians not to raise sensitive issues for their private gains at the expense of the country's peace and solidarity.

The King's advice couldn't have been more timely. We must cautiously seek to verify a piece of information we receive before forwarding it so as not to fall into the trap of these irresponsible people.

It could be the JPN today and some other agencies or institutions tomorrow. As such, it is utterly necessary for JPN to file a police report.

Sin Chew Daily's “Seeking the Truth” column has been constantly helping government departments and private enterprises to clarify all sorts of untruthful online information on a daily basis.

While it is admittedly very difficulty to get people not to believe in Internet lies, on the more positive side, government institutions and private companies can still win back the public's trust by dealing with such lies honestly and candidly in a bid to minimize the destruction.

 

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