Malaysia just made fake news illegal and punishable by up to six years in jail

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Malaysia passed a new law today that would punish citizens on social media or those working at a digital publication for spreading fake news with a 500,000 ringgit ($123,000) fine and a possible a prison sentence of up to six years. Led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Anti-Fake News bill passed in parliament today despite opponents who had criticized the bill for possibly impeding free speech and attempting to censor the prime minister’s involvement in a multibillion-dollar scandal.

A draft of the bill had specified a prison sentence of up to 10 years as punishment, but the government toned it down to six in the finalized version, as reported by Reuters. Fake news cases will be handled by an independent court process. Violators could even include those outside of Malaysia as long as they’re writing about the country or its people.

The Malaysian law defines fake news as “news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false.” News includes stories, video, and audio content.

Malaysia is one of the first countries to implement a statewide ban on fake news that punishes the party that publishes the offending content. All around the world, countries are grappling with how to deal with the spread of harmful content or misinformation in their nations. Last year, Germany introduced a plan that fined social media platforms if they didn’t remove posts that included hate speech. Regulators from the Philippines had been debating how to deal with fake news in their own country, but said in February that banning fake news outright would be “unconstitutional.” Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted in an interview today that the company did not do enough to prevent the spread of sensational anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya messages on its Messenger platform.


CNN has since closed is Malaysian doors.

So edgy.

Guess someone has a grudge against CNN lol.

If you are going to get arrested for criticising the government, then yeah. Dangerous territory to be playing in.

CNN is who you’re going with here? Okay.

So, if I post an Onion article? Or if I author one? Or if I post one unknowingly, thinking it’s factual, as certain Senators have done?

If I knowingly lie on Facebook and say Trump eats babies, without there being an article? If I post on Facebook claiming Trump eats babies, but doing it thinking I’m factually correct? I’d imagine there’s a requirement the poster is aware, right, some form of mens rea?

"Partially false" is odd, too. Stuff gets posted on these forums that’s partially false daily. Several times a week stories here have one thing wrong, or misunderstood. If you want to see any news station get it wrong, look at them cover something that happens overseas that they completely misinterpret.

Or what about opinion? Fox News today said Chuck Todd was anti-American because he said he tries to live every day as if it’s as Good as Good Friday. That seems pretty damn false…

Partially false… if they can pick one thing that isn’t entirely correct then they’ve got ya.

Or this is just a tool to effectively control the news and information that reaches the people by the state.

Seems like a very dangerous precedent. It will be very interesting to see the ramifications of this bill.

Time to cancel your subscription, Malaysia.

I am all for this bill, I know there will be some unintended consequences but I think it is a small price to pay overall. We’ve reached a point where enough is enough with propaganda news. If you going to print or publish it, then you better be able to stand behind it and not knowingly misled folks. There is no such thing as journalistics integrity anymore, people just publish stuff just for clicks. This will go a long way to cub the copy and paste stuff we currently have going on. It’s too bad this is in malaysia, can’t wait for this to happen here.

You sir, are out of your mind.
Do you know what’s considered fake news with this law in place? News that is not verified by the Malaysian government. They can now choose NOT to verify any news/leaks, claim them as being fake, and jail/fine the whistle blowers.
That’s not any small unintended consequence, it’s a significant intended effect, affected to shutdown criticism of the government.

I totally agree, and if I may add.

The news of Sinclair Broadcast Group pushing an agenda in a not too cool fashion was the first time I got scared of Trump for real.
The term false news really is the term that will start the next world war. So yes you’re right, who will decide what IS false news? Trump?

I think this is Russia’s real end game; create chaos through the ‘fake news’ commotion that will instigate government vs real news, thereby validating a motive for censorship for anything unsavoury to the incumbent administration. Private interests(like SBG) that act on behalf of the administration(very Russia-like) to mask the government agenda as well as make it seem that this is the people’s moral edict in motion. This will create more authoritarian governments, and therefore more Russia-copies around.

CNN and NBC often do the same. Yes, we know Russia is one of the biggest source of fake news but they are not alone.

CNN and NBC don’t share the same motive that Russia has and I wouldn’t really put them as the poster child for fake news in the mainstream media, it’s obviously Fox news. CNN and NBC don’t wish to create a more authoritarian government that would censor/control them, that works against their interests. Right now, the mainstream media(not including Fox) treat fake news or just improper investigative reporting(incl. sexual misconduct) as a malignancy and the repercussions of those actions when they come to light are generally as severe as possible, firing those responsible. They don’t want to make themselves the centre of attention and therefore take the swiftest and severest action available to quell any concern about their integrity. Fox news on the other hand realises the game plan set forth by Russia and already seats themselves as the puppet media for the current government.

Russia is Russia, it will continue to be a threat as long as Putin is there, he spends a shitload of money on fake news propaganda sites like RT, but this has been a thing for at least a decade now.

The way americans are blaming Russia for everything is simply wrong, they can’t act like fake news is just a russian thing because half of the problem is right in their country, they can’t blame Russia for the election of Trump.

The problem is much bigger than that: for soo long journalists (all of them, not just Fox News, RT, NBC,…) created fake news on a daily basis for all kind of purposes (gossip, politics,…) and for some reason we all accepted by not paying too much attention, what we’re facing today are the consequences.

We have to carefully define what fake news is, since its a rather new concept (though not a new entity) really born just a few years ago. We really should be wary of fake news in the political landscape since the repercussions of negligence are life changing. We should blame Russia for Trump’s election, at least somewhat. They have weaponised and exploited the fact that fake news spreads 6 times faster than fact-based news by creating troll farms. Mainstream media may be politically biased with how they cover certain stories, but they would never spew out absolutely fake news especially with the intention of creating political chaos or, bar fox news, currying favour with the president.

I agree that Americans play very easily into the hands of private and government propaganda. An example would be that the entire globe overwhelmingly is against readily purchasable weapons for its citizens, but Americans are so bought out by the rhetoric spouted by private interests, that they would literally choose fiction over fact despite knowing the truth. But this is the repercussion of a free and open media.

Any limitation or regulation placed on free media will be considered a step towards dictatorial censorship. The only solution is to prevent fake news from entering the political arena, and that’s by pushing out big money from buying out politicians, the same big money that funds fake news.

It will be abused by regulator, which will lead to rise of state propaganda. Welcome to 1984.

so if I ask where MH370 went, handcuffs for me?

In an unrelated story, Dan Rather cancels trip to Malaysia.

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