Is It A Fact Or Rumour? Get It Confirmed At "sebenarnya.my"

By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin

KUALA LUMPUR(Bernama) --Several weeks ago, Malaysians were appalled when an amateurvideo surfaced showing howrice could be kneadedinto rubber balls that bouncewhen thrown on the floor.The video lent credence to widespread rumoursthatthe rice available in the markethave been mixed with plastic rice.

The video went viral with the rice producer and the authorities concernedbeing the target of public rage.No one bothered to verify if there was any proof or studies conducted on the assumptionmade by the video or whether it was just false news.

It appearsthat peoplewill rather believeon anything and do no bother toverify the authenticityof what they seeor hearorwaitfor verification of explanation of the authorities or the parties involved on the matter.

Moreover, theplastic rice episode is not something new. In2015, the sameallegation emerged in Indonesia and subsequently in the Philippinesleaving the people and the authorities riled up.

In January this year, the same allegation croppedup in Thailandprompting the country'sCommerce MinisterApiradi Tantrapornto issue an official statement denying that the country exports plastic rice.

Yet there is nothing to stop the fallacious plastic rice issue from goingfurther. RecentlyBBC reported that such claims arespreading fast in the African continent.

FALLING VICTIM TO FALSE INFORMATION AND FALSE NEWS

Circulating information without checking or verifying the facts seems to be the norm these days.Just look at theWhatsappmessages in anyhandphone, there is no end to the solicited and unsolicited messagesthat one will receive. Numerous messages and video clips right from the religious, politics, social, culturalrealm and evenrumourswill be fowardedby friends and family members without thinking twice.

While many are aware that not all the information that they receivethrough their digital gadgets is true, yet they don't take the trouble to verify the facts and figures that they receive.

Sensational news recurtime and again. Even if the news items are denied or clarified,they still reappearagain in the future, like the plastic rice episode, creating fear,confusion and anxiety.

This should not be the case nowadays as various authorities includingthe Malaysia Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has established onlineavenuesfor the public to verifyor get thetrue picture of the information thatthey receive.

WithMCMC's "sebenarnya.my" portal, launched on14 Mac, 2017, there is no reason for anyone to continue remaining ignorant on the authenticity of the information or video clips that they receive.The reference portal not only helps the public toverifynews that go viral but also help address the spread of false news.

TRUE FACTS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

So how does the "sebenarnya.my" portal work. "It is actually more of a repositorythatarchives false news accompanied by clarification or denial made by the related parties," saidEnengFaridah Iskandar, MCMC's head of the outreach and engagement division.

The points explained or denied are based on the resources like media statement, statements at thewebsiteof the ministry,departments or related agencies or even statements issuedin social networklikeFacebook andTwitter.

Having said that, despite of the portal'scrucial role, it is not a mediumthat supersedes the ministries, departments, agencies or even mass media in shedding light on matters of contention. Thesebenarnya.my portal is a facilitator for the publicwho want to verify the credibility of the information received throughtheir gadgets.

MALAYSIANS EASILY FALL FOR UNVERIFIED INFORMATION

"It appears that many in our society remain ignorant or at a loss on the fact that they have avenues to check on the veracity of the issues orinformation. When they come across a websiteor a blogwith suspicious content, they do not know where to verify the information. This is where MCMChelps in enabling 'fact checking'," addedEneng.

Enengalso hoped that avenues likesebenarnya.my wouldnot only help educate the society to counter check the information that they receive before disseminatingthe information to the others. Counter checking the informationshould be second in nature for anyone before disseminating information and other material.

Thesebenarnya.myis a simple and user friendly site that enables thepublic to seek more information, links to theofficial sitesproviding explanation or denial, all provided below the information of contention.

There is also the search box where users can make quick search using key words. For example, if one types the keyword 'aircraft', the portal will list down the rumours of false news relating to aircraft that hadgone viral.

Amongfalsenews relating to the aircraft is that in theMH370wreckage foundin the Philippines(Oct2015), the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)will leaseGripenjet fighters from Sweden (Sept 2012) and an RMAF aircraft crashed inButterworth(Mac 2017).

NOT FOR PRIVATE USE

The issues that is beyond the scopeof this portal is personal and private issues, the agendaof individuals, companies or any political parties, sensitiveissues relating to communityleaders and anything else that transgresses the portal's original goals ofenlightening the society by providing the real picture.

The public also have the avenue to take up matters of concern with MCMCthrough the available channels"https://aduan.skmm.gov.my", "https://aduan.skmm.gov.my", or "mailto:aduanskmm@cmc.gov.my", aduanskmm@cmc.gov.my or through Whatsapp(+6016 2206 262).

The broadbandpenetration rate in up to the fourth quarter of2016 was77.6 percent.Throughout2016, MCMCreceived352 complaintson hacking, love scams and 'sextortion' (329), online sales scam (287),cheating cases (261) and 'phising' cases (40).

For the benefit of the people, SKMMwill work closely with the government departments and agencies to channel the right information. On our part we will continue to improve the 'sebenarnya.com' portal's contentfrom time to time, said Eneng.

BERNAMA