Internet campaign to educate users on fake news and cyber bullying

The prominence of fake news in the US presidential campaign last year has put the issue in the spotlight, as Internet users continue getting information - both real and fake - from online websites.

Educating Internet users on how to discern fake news from real news is one of the goals of this year's Better Internet Campaign spearheaded by the the Media Literacy Council (MLC).

Other goals include stepping up against cyber bullying and reducing excessive screen time.

The four-month campaign, which aims to promote responsible online habits and safe Internet use, started yesterday to mark the global Safer Internet Day initiative.

The campaign consists of outreach and awareness programmes aimed at young people aged 15 to 35 years as they are active Internet users.

MLC chairman Lock Wai Han said it was critical to encourage young people here to be positive online as mobile devices and the Internet have become an integral part of everyday life.

"With the proliferation of news sources online, we need to be discerning to distinguish between falsehood and the truth to avoid falling prey to scams and fake news," he added.

Because there is no "silver bullet" that can be used to identify fake news, it is important for Internet users to be aware and discerning of the things they read online, said Mr Lock.

"Look at the website's URL - does it look fishy or authentic? Look at the images - are they a bit too far-fetched? Look at the text for spelling mistakes, who the authors are, whether they are anonymous authors or sources - these are all tell-tale signs," he said.

The campaign will also address cyber bullying through a series of outreach events in secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

The campaign website features personal stories and experiences of cyber bullying, told from both the perspective of bully and victim, to encourage more Internet users to stand up to cyber bullies.

There are also workshops for parents and a forum for youth on cyber wellness next month as part of the council's wider outreach here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Internet campaign to educate users on fake news and cyber bullying'. Print Edition | Subscribe