Check dubious news with reliable sources

In April 2016, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) warned the public of a fake website that has been phishing for visitors' visa numbers and passport numbers.
In April 2016, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) warned the public of a fake website that has been phishing for visitors' visa numbers and passport numbers. PHOTO: ICA

The formation of a Select Committee that looks into the threat of fake news is a timely one.

As was pointed out in Parliament, freedom of expression should not be seen to be at loggerheads with measures to counter online falsehoods.

In fact, I would say that such measures will help to augment freedom of speech as they serve to separate the wheat from the chaff, greatly clear the otherwise muddled water, and give more credence to those with genuine opinions to contribute.

Select Committee chairman Charles Chong explained it succinctly when he said there was consensus on the need to "say 'yes' to alternative views, but not alternative facts".

We are fortunate that we have a highly reliable source of news as reference - The Straits Times.

One of the simple measures that I have adopted to combat fake news is to cross-refer news that I have read from other sources with that reported in ST.

In this respect, as the saying goes - a healthy dose of scepticism always helps.

In the world of cyberspace where fake news tends to travel faster than the truth, readers themselves will have to exercise a high level of acumen, self-discipline and discernment to stay ahead of the game.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Check dubious news with reliable sources'. Print Edition | Subscribe