Daily Management Review

Events This Year In Asia Proves How Dangerous ‘Fake News’ Can Be


Events This Year In Asia Proves How Dangerous ‘Fake News’ Can Be
Hate speech, stereotypes and propaganda have been bolstered in Asia by the spread misinformation and disinformation be it the Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis or the Philippine drug war or the Indonesian elections.
Within the region, "fake news is closely linked to domestic politics and in particular, the rise of nationalism," explained Mustafa Izzuddin, a fellow at Singaporean think tank ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. He continued that circulation of fake news in Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines have been bolstered by nationalist politics along with ethno-religious undertones.
"The more pervasive the politics of nationalism, the more ubiquitous fake news will be," he said.
Deliberate tactics of planting inaccurate stories about the Jakarta politician Governor Tjahaja Purnama was done with the aim of preventing the politician being reelected in the gubernation vote in April. 
There were violent clashes after fake and faulty news about Basuki, also generally known as Ahok, was a part of a Chinese conspiracy to exert control over Indonesia and these were part of the content of the articles that were focused on the Chinese ethnicity and Christian beliefs of Purnama even as the contents and campaigns sought to take advantage of the deeply-rooted religious divisions in the country.
Those fake news reports also sought to identify the Ahok to be a Chinese agent and that female infertility would be the result of his free Human Papillomavirus vaccination program. Following the clashes, a two-year sentence in prison was awarded to Ahok. Saracen, which is an online syndicate that is engaged in the creation of and spreading of hoaxes for profit was found out to be behind those hate articles after police investigations. But Saracen's clients are not yet known.
The state as well as the civilians were engaged in creating a tirade of misleading information about Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Rohingya Muslims are an ethnic group who are considered to be illegal immigrants by Myanmar government.
The United Nations has termed "ethnic cleansing" the manner in which Rohingya have been brutally treated by the security forces and the Buddhists.
There have however been completely different reports about the Rohingya issue in the local newspapers which claimed that the homes of the Rohingya was burnt down by themselves while they also killed Buddhists and Hindus. This is a view that has been supported by the government. This has created a different picture about the Rohingya crisis among many Burmese.
In the Philippines on the other hand, the strongman image of Philippine President Rodrigo Dutertewas bolstered by misleading articles in his favor. One such was a hoax endorsement of the president by NASA that incredibly called Duterte "the best president in the solar system."
The spreading of pro-government propaganda and internet trolling of the critics of the president on the internet was funded by the budget of $200,000, found an Oxford University study this year.
"For the first time in most people's lives, they now have access to non-censored information by the state," explained Aim Sinpeng, a politics professor at the University of Sydney.
"Millions of Southeast Asians who have access to the internet for the first time now also have access to a sludge of information that has largely been unmitigated by state control," Sinpeng said. Sinpeng added for may South Asians, the main source of news is now Facebook and most tend to completely believe what is said on the social media platform

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