Asia's fight against fake news

What's being done in Asia and around the world


Beijing stepped up measures recently to improve China's online environment. Its Cyberspace Administration fined the country's biggest social media platforms last month, under a new cyber security law for hosting fake news, pornography and other banned content.

Under new rules, groups releasing false information could see group chats closed or suspended with the founder being punished by the service provider.

These efforts build on those in the past decade to counter fake news. These include the establishment of the News Morality Association - which now exists in 14 provinces and municipalities - to improve journalism standards.


Malaysia shut down or blocked more than 3,000 fake social media accounts since January this year. The government is also considering the registration of online portals to prevent the spread of fake news.

The Malaysian government set up a fact-checking website, ("actually" in Malay), to verify the authenticity of news spread via social media.

Malaysia set up fact-checking website to verify the authenticity of news on social media.
Malaysia set up fact-checking website to verify the authenticity of news on social media. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK


Individuals have come forward to debunk outrageous claims and rumours. Two notable debunking websites in India are altnews and

A big problem in countering the phenomenon for the government is WhatsApp's popularity. The platform has an end-to-end encryption, which makes it difficult to trace the trail of messages and in turn to regulate its spread.


The National Police's cyber division and the Communications and Information Ministry strictly monitor social media and websites. They block or shut down websites spreading fake news. Still, regulation has been questionable.


One notable effort is that of SureAndShare, which has a mission to counter fake news. It was set up by several staff from the state-run Thai News Agency in 2015. They have a daily programme on a channel run by the Mass Communication Organisation of Thailand. The team also launched a bot service on the messaging app, Line, for people to ask them about specific news.


The Vietnamese authorities have imposed sanctions against individuals and organisations that publish false information. They have also introduced a draft decree for fines against those who create fake accounts using personal details of others, falsifying information and generating provocative content. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Information and Communications imposed fines in 10 cases where people spread false information.


In June, the government passed a law that could impose fines of up to €50 million (S$80 million) on social media companies if they do not delete illegal, racist or slanderous comments and posts within 24 hours of being asked to do so. It took effect this month.


The Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, which was launched by the government's Interior Ministry, was set up to fight fake news. This was prompted after a slew of false stories, predominantly about migrants, emerged on 40 Czech-language websites.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline 'What's being done in Asia and around the world'. Print Edition | Subscribe