Anti-Fake News Laws Starting To Get Passed

Laws are starting to be passed that block “fake news,” but are they really good ideas, or will they be abused and used in corruption?

By nowproducerdave on April 3, 2018
(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

First things first, this is happening in Malaysia, but it may influence laws (and the fake-news industry as a whole) here in the States in the future as well. In as few words as possible, in Malaysia it’s now illegal to create or share “misleading information.” This means fake news stories that are deliberately created to deliver misinformation. It seems like those obviously-satirical websites like The Onion are safe though.

The law has been voted in-majority, and Malaysian senate members are “expected to be approved by the Senate later this week and take effect shortly.” It’s simply being called the “fake news bill,” and it’s sort of made to target (mostly websites) fake news sources. It’s been challenged by opponents to the law on the basis of violation of free speech, and that it’s going to “silence critics of the government in an election year.” Proponents of the bill say that free speech is still very much allowed. Still, there are plenty of critics accusing the law of being “a weapon to close the truth so that what is false can be upheld as true, and what is true can be reversed as false… This is something very dangerous for our country,” says legislator Lim Guan Eng.

The law also has the power to span different countries. If fake news is generated outside of the country but manages to come into Malaysia, officials can go after the source of the fake news. Now, what defines “fake news” isn’t exactly clear, and we’re not totally sure on what the media industry is like in Malaysia or how much government corruption there is (it sounds like there might be a lot based on some opposing arguments), so this could be good or very bad. If news articles are written in certain ways to sway opinions, or if there’s some level of corruption, I guess unfavorable stories can be censored and blocked while “creatively written” stories pass as “real news.” We’ll have to see what happens.

Do you think there should be a ban on “fake news” stories here in the States? What do you consider “fake news?” We say it’s pretty simply any news stories that are totally made up from nothing – which sounds pretty cut and dry, but that also depends on who has the power to accuse a story of being “made up,” so again it turns into a big gray area. Should the internet be censored, or should it remain a free, open, fake or real news articles source of information? See more on Malaysia’s law here.

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