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Ministry watchdog looking for fake news posted by online media outlets

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Information minister Khieu Kanharith holds a meeting at the ministry on Monday. AKP

Ministry watchdog looking for fake news posted by online media outlets

The Ministry of Information’s fake news monitoring commission is scrutinising all registered online news outlets to determine if any of them have spread information deemed as misleading or inciting before filing a report to Minister Khieu Kanharith.

During a virtual meeting on September 6, Kanharith noted that the commission is tasked with targeting news services that misinform society or spread fake news. It is different from another commission that reviews and evaluates journalistic ethics to raise the value of the profession.

“The anti-fake news group needs to check how many online outlets spread fake news, and how often the offences are committed. The commission has to present a summary report every three months,” he said.

Ministry spokesman Phos Sovann told The Post that the minister’s instruction was merely a reminder for the commission, which had so far performed its tasks accordingly.

He said Kanharith will review all issues reported to him and decide whether further measures are necessary.

“So far, we have seen that there is a lot of fake news, among which we have also checked whether those outlets were properly registered,” he said.

According to Sovann, if a registered outlet publishes fake news or misleading information, the ministry will contact the owner for a reprimand. If the mistakes are serious, the ministry would issue a warning or revoke the publishing licence.

For outlets that are not registered in accordance with the law, the ministry would report the case to relevant authorities for further action.

Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said a news outlet that is properly registered with the information ministry should not spread fake news and false information to mislead the public and potentially cause chaos in society.

“Journalists should disseminate information that is beneficial to society and based on ethics and professionalism. But if they spread fake news and misleading information, it can pose a risk to society,” he said.

According to the commission’s report for August, there were a total of 160 cases involving fake news, false information, incitement, and slurs against government leaders.

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