The Dangers of Fake News
Have you heard of these 3 news stories?
- In 2015, Thaipusam musicians were ordered to stop playing their instruments after a Filipino family complained about the noise.
- In 2016, the roof collapsed at the HDB Build-To-Order project Punggol Waterway Terraces.
- In 2018, someone reported that a halal stall in Jurong East was selling pork belly.
How do you feel about these stories? Shocked? Concerned? Feel like sharing them with your friends? Before you do, have you thought to pause and consider if these news stories are actually real?
The truth is, none of them are real. The stories above are 3 examples of FAKE NEWS that circulated in Singapore in recent times. So what exactly is fake news?
False stories that appear to be news and is spread around, usually using a
Can you think of some possible effects of the 3 fake news above?
- The fake news could have created tension between Indian and Filipino communities in Singapore. Read more here.
- Police and Civil Defence Force officers, as well as HDB and town council officers, actually rushed to the location, only to find out it is a hoax! Read more here.
- Many netizens condemned the stall and left negative comments. The stall’s business suffered badly due to this irresponsible report. Read more here.
As you can see now, fake news can be quite serious and even pose real dangers to society in the following ways:
- Damage to reputation
- Causing public alarm
- Causing tension between racial and religious groups
- Causing tension between public and government
According to gov.sg, 77% of Singaporeans have come across fake news at least occasionally - primarily on Whatsapp and Facebook. Online websites and social media have made it very easy to spread fake news as we become increasingly connected digitally.
How can we play a part to stop the spread of fake news? We can start by learning how to recognise fake news so that we do not participate in spreading the rumours.
Below are some tips from Media Literacy Council to help you identify fake news.
- Check the source: try find your news from credible sources that have a good reputation, not just through your friends or social media.
- Look at the ‘About us’ or ‘Contact us’ pages: websites with the intent to mislead often don’t have these pages, or have very little helpful information on them.
- Be sceptical of dramatic headlines: headlines that are particularly dramatic are probably exaggerating something, so be sure to double check these.
- Look up the language: if an article has lots of spelling or grammatical errors, it likely has not been rigorously checked by the news source.
- Confirm with other reliable sources: check other news sites to see if the same story is running on multiple credible sources.
- Go to the experts: websites such as Snopes, Factually, and FactCheck have teams who verify whether popular news stories are true or fake.