Two-day conference on fake news begins

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam will deliver the keynote address today at a conference on countering the rise of fake news.

Media publishers, journalists and policymakers are coming together to examine topics such as fact checking, media literacy and regulations at the two-day event beginning today.

Titled "Keep it Real: Truth and Trust in the Media", the forum is jointly organised by The Straits Times and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

Mr Warren Fernandez, editor- in-chief of the English, Malay and Tamil Media group of Singapore Press Holdings and editor of The Straits Times, said: "The proliferation of fake news in recent times has made it increasingly difficult for all of us to distinguish between what is real and unreal, true or false, fact or alternative fact.

"So we at The Straits Times are happy to collaborate with the World Association of Newspapers on this timely forum, which brings together media players, media thinkers and media users to discuss how societies might respond to this phenomenon."

Greater connectivity has aided the spread of fake news and alternative facts, which has emerged as a problem around the globe.

Just last Saturday, Singapore government website gov.sg debunked a claim being circulated on WhatsApp and social media that a person's Central Provident Fund savings would be transferred by default to his nominee's Medisave account upon death, instead of being issued in cash.

Other recent instances of hoax news included a claim that a childcare centre was feeding children rotten fruit, and another that the roof of a block at Punggol Waterway Terraces had collapsed.

Ms Lynn McDonald, High Commissioner of Canada, and Mr Ian Wilson, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said: "The fake news phenomenon affects us all. Addressing this issue requires strong, ongoing collaboration between governments and the private sector."

Participants today will hear talks on the Internet being used as a weapon and on the impact of misinformation on politics, among other topics. Speakers include editors from The Straits Times, Philippines news site Rappler and news agency Reuters, as well as representatives from Google News Lab and German non-profit investigative organisation correctiv.org.

Other partners of the event include the Canadian High Commission, Facebook, Google, German political organisation Konrad Adenauer Foundation, National Library Board and Singapore Management University.

The event, held at Singapore Management University's new School of Law Building, is open to the public and tickets can be purchased at the door. Tickets cost $125 for the public and $100 for Wan-Ifra members. Only cash payment will be accepted for walk-in registrations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'Two-day conference on fake news begins'. Print Edition | Subscribe