Malaysia convicts first person under fake news law

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – A Malaysian court Monday handed a Danish man a one-week jail term for breaking a law against “fake news”, the first person to be punished under the controversial legislation.

The law, passed in early April, makes the deliberate dissemination of false information punishable by up to six years in jail and a hefty fine. It has sparked outrage from rights groups, who believe it is aimed at cracking down on dissent.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, a 46-year-old of Yemeni descent, admitted making and posting on YouTube a video accusing emergency services of responding slowly after a Palestinian Hamas member was gunned down in Kuala Lumpur.

The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News

The Atlantic–  Falsehoods almost always beat out the truth on Twitter, penetrating further, faster, and deeper into the social network than accurate information.

A massive new MIT study, first published in Science, analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor.  By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.

Marine general removed after calling reports of alleged sexual harassment ‘fake news’

ABC News- The Marine Corps has removed the general officer in charge of Marine and Family Programs – Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein – for making inappropriate public comments about an ongoing sexual harassment investigation.

Stein described articles about the investigation as “fake news” and joked about a Navy chaplain recently removed from duty for sexual misconduct, a defense official familiar with the investigation said.

It was during an April 6 town hall that he described press reports about a sexual harassment investigation at his command as “fake news,” the defense official familiar with the investigation told ABC News.

According to a statement from one witness at the town hall, Stein’s remarks on sexual harassment allegations referred to two civilian employees whose complaints against other employees in the command, dating back more than a year, are under investigation, the defense official said.

The official said Stein also joked about a Navy chaplain who had recently been fired from his post in New Orleans for sexual misconduct, saying that “aviators should live vicariously through the chaplain’s ‘actions’ and that “chaplains are getting more ‘action’ than aviators.”

President Trump advises himself, then ignores own advice

The President tweeted himself last week and then quickly ignored his own advice in going ahead with the bombing of Syria without getting Congressional approval.

The tweet from 2013 resurfaced last week as a poignant reminder of the President’s ability to ignore advice given to him by anyone, including himself.

It also served as a poignant reminder that the President is taking speaking in the third person to new and revolutionary  extremes.

Zuckerberg apologizes to Congress over spread of ‘fake news,’ hate speech

The Hill-  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday kicked off his inaugural appearance before lawmakers on Capitol Hill by apologizing for his company’s recent missteps.

“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm,” Zuckerberg said at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.

“That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” he continued.

“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”


Malaysia approves law banning fake news ahead of elections

AP-  Malaysia’s parliament passed a law prohibiting fake news that critics fear will be abused to silence dissent ahead of a general election.

Despite warnings such a law would lead Malaysia closer to dictatorship, the bill was approved 123 to 64 after a heated debate. The bill originally proposed a 10-year jail term and a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit ($128,000) for offenders, but the approved legislation sets the maximum prison sentence at six years.

Rights activists say the law appears aimed at shutting down discussion of a multibillion-dollar financial scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is widely expected to call for national elections in the next few days.

Azalina Othman, minister in charge of law, said social media such as Twitter and Facebook have acknowledged they are unable to monitor fake news on their platforms. She said the bill gives power to the court, not the government, to decide what is fake news.

“No one is above the law. We are all accountable for our actions,” she said.

Government officials have accused the opposition coalition of using fake news to win votes and warned that any news about the indebted 1MDB state fund that has not been verified by the government is fake.

The U.S. and several other countries are investigating allegations of cross-border embezzlement and money laundering at 1MDB, which was set up and previously led by Najib to promote economic development, but which accumulated billions in debt. The U.S. Justice Department says at least $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB by associates of Najib, and it is working to seize $1.7 billion taken from the fund to buy assets in the U.S., potentially its largest asset seizure ever.


India introduces, then quickly cancels, a plan to blacklist reporters for spreading ‘fake news’

(LA Times)   “When a government and ruling party that themselves peddle disinformation now say they want to fight fake news, it is time for the media to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst,” wrote Siddharth Varadarajan, co-founder of the news website the Wire.

If found guilty, a journalist would have been blacklisted for six months for a first offense, one year for a second and permanently in case of a third.

Journalists at Sinclair local affiliate, “if we spoke out under our names, we could lose our jobs”

Vox posted an anonymous letter from some ‘journalists’ at a Sinclair News local affiliate who said they faced the loss of their jobs and potential fines if they spoke out against the station by name.

“We’re writing this anonymously because if we spoke out under our names, we could lose our jobs — and potentially owe money to Sinclair.”

The journalists were reacting to a promo campaign where anchors at Sinclair’s news stations across the country were required to read the same script decrying “fake” and “biased” reporting — echoing President Donald Trump’s anti-media messaging.

Researchers call for large-scale scientific investigation into fake news

The journal Science has published an essay by researchers at such high-profile organizations as Microsoft, Harvard, Yale and MIT.

They discuss extant social and computer science research regarding belief in fake news and the mechanisms by which it spreads.  Fake news has a long history, but the essay focuses  on unanswered scientific questions raised by the proliferation of its most recent, politically oriented incarnation.

Summary:  The indictment of 13 Russians in the operation of a “troll farm” that spread false information related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election has renewed the spotlight on the power of “fake news” to influence public opinion. Now, a professor who studies the spread of misinformation online is joining prominent legal scholars, social scientists and researchers in a global “call to action” in the fight against it.

Fox News fact-checks Trump claim: ‘None of that was true.’

Fox News anchor Shep Smith aired a report fact checking the President’s claim that Amazon shipping packages through the USPS costs America and taxpayers “many billions of dollars a year.”

Shep Smith: “None of that was true.”