Anti-fake News Center; can we trust them?April 19, 2020
On the 1st of November 2019, the Anti-Fake News center was founded by Buddhipongse Punnakanta: ministry of digital economy and society. Their goals and targets are to track down and investigate and check the reliability of the information that has been shared and spread through the internet. The establishment of this organization raised many questions from Thai people; since this government is well known and infamous for censoring their opposition and criticism, several people are concerned about the impartiality of the organization. Even though the organization has its own seven working rules, and the seventh one declared that the department is free from any influence of others, people still did not trust them. The skepticism from people might come from their prejudice that the governmental organization is all established for the same reason; to limit and decrease their freedom, which is already minor in the first place.
Anti-fake news center or Anti-government bad news?
As mentioned, in the past six years, we can see that this government is sensitive and fragile to criticism; the prime minister, Prayut Chan-Ocha, always retaliates against their opposition and sees people who have different political opinions from him as an enemy. Many activists were imprisoned, and some media and news agencies almost got banned. This shows that this government is very concerned about its image, and it does not want people to see its mistake and a scandal. So is it not suspicious that this government is trying to filter out fake news by establishing an Anti-Fake News center? Are we confident enough to let this government who has this kind of record filter the fake news for us, and will it penetrate the fake news or the anti-government news?
From the establishment of the Anti-fake news center until now, there is no significant sign of censorship on the opposition as people are concerned. However, the organization has a Facebook page that is quite active and often warns people about posting fake news on social media in an intimidating manner, in my opinion. As people said, the dictator has no humor; this organization is quite going along with the stereotype. Before April Fool’s Day 2020, it announced that any false information related to COVID-19 would be charged for the Thailand cybercrime act, which caused a lot of outrage among Thai who already opposed the government.
This organization may has made some mistakes, which I will talk about in more detail in the other paragraph. They also failed on communicating with people as we can see that every moment it posts an announcement on its Facebook page, there will be a lot of negative comments. However, overall, I believe that the organization did its responsibility quite alright in informing people about the fake news that is currently spread throughout the Internet. Although this organization also makes some mistakes, but it did not happen so often, so it is still in the good place.
Anti-fake news center or fake-news Center?
Mistakes can happen by anyone; sometimes, it is forgivable, but sometimes it is not. I assume that the errors of the governmental organizations are in the second category.
On 3 April 2020, the Anti-fake news center had announced on its Facebook page that the horse plague news is fake and told people to stop panicking. Many news outlets reported this news, both mainstream and alternative media, which turned out these news outlets are right, and it is the mistake of the Anti-fake news center. The public was heavily criticized this organization due to its error, and this circumstance has led to the rise of many questions about the reliability of the organization. In my opinion, this event has ruined the reputation of the Anti-fake news center since this time it is themselves that spread the fake news, which is opposed to their primary duty, which is to fight against fake news. Later, the organization came out and apologized to the public, which I think is a suitable response.
Another mistake is not directly from the Anti-fake news center, but it comes from the founder of this organization: Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta. He had shared the fake news about the king of Thailand donating the ventilators to the hospital to prepare for the COVID 19 patients. This news turns out to be fake news, and in fact, there is no evidence of donation at the first place.
After Buddhipongse was accused of sharing fake news, he deleted his post. The government opposition and the anti-royalist in Thailand are immensely pleased and gratified with his mistakes.
However, I think that this mistake is not funny at all; it is a serious matter. At this point, I believe there is some problem if the people who are in a high-rank position in the government with the duty to filter fake news for Thai people have a relatively low level of media literacy. People in this position are expected to have more media literacy than this. In my opinion, his media literacy might be at the same level as the average boomers, which are very prone to the influence of fake news and rumors from their social media group. This even shows that the construction of the Thai government is based on the network and connection; people who are in a high position in the government are not necessarily talented; they just have a connection.
This raises more questions about why our tax has to be used to pay the salary of people who are not suitable for their position. This may seem like I shift my opinion about this organization from the previous content; however, it is not. In this paragraph, I criticize the individual, not the organization.
Anti-fake news centers had been keeping an eye on even before the establishment of the organization due to the distrust by various groups of people. Currently, the organization is doing quite decently, but they also made some unforgivable mistakes in informing people the fake news. However, there is no act of censorship on the government’s opposition yet. Nevertheless, we still have to observe them continually since we can not predict what they will do in the future as same as other governmental organizations.