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Strategies to fight fake news proposed; PHL’s 2016 AMRI campaign lauded

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s Finance minister on Thursday proposed four broad strategies that Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states can use to combat the growing digital problem that is fake news.

"The first of these strategies is education and awareness, which refers to the cultivation of a discerning and well-informed public that can critically evaluate the information they come across online," said Finance chief Heng Swee Keat at the opening ceremony of the 14th ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) meeting.

Detection and response come in second, with legislation — norms and guidelines that aim to empower and protect consumers while encouraging industry players to contribute — only coming in third, he said.

‘The last strategy, which will buttress the other three is community and ground-up participation,’ Heng concluded.

He encouraged ASEAN states to share their best practices, citing efforts of several ASEAN states including Malaysia’s fact-checking portal that allows Malaysians to check the authenticity of need and submit queries regarding unverified information; Indonesian civil society group Mafindo’s initiative at setting up a Facebook group that crowdsources reports of suspected falsehoods; and Singapore’s Parliamentary Select Committee that looks into deliberate online falsehoods.

"These national efforts are necessary in order to address the challenges of online falsehoods and deliberate misinformation [but] we must also work together to cultivate a resilient, trust digital ecosystem across ASEAN," he said.

With the theme "inclusive and informed digital asean," the focus of the 14th AMRI is to build a strong ASEAN community through information and media, nurture a digitally inclusive and literate ASEAN, and promote stronger cooperation with regional dialogue partners.

In his welcoming remarks, S. Iswaran, Singaporean minister for information and communications, acknowledged the efforts of the Philippines during our hosting of the AMRI meeting in 2016.

"They launched a series of activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN which also raised the awareness of the region among our people," he said.

Joining the nine other representatives of ASEAN states and the three dialogue partners is Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar. — MDM, GMA News