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Experts Discuss ‘Fake News’ at Korea Journalism Conference

An editorial titled "A Free Press Needs You" is published in The New York Times, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in New York. Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news" Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press. The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The founding editor of Buzzfeed Canada told VOA Khmer that fake news was making it difficult for society to distinguish between fact and fiction.

The spread of “fake news” on social media can have a disastrous impact on democratic countries, according to news media experts.

Propaganda and fake news were discussed at the Third Asian Investigative Journalism Conference in Seoul, South Korea, this week, with some 50 speakers from across the world providing varying opinions on how to stem the flow of fake news.

Craig Silverman, the founding editor of Buzzfeed Canada, told VOA Khmer that fake news was making it difficult for society to distinguish between fact and fiction.

“The danger of allowing false information, propaganda to take over is that we lose the society, we lose democracy and that is a really dangerous thing to think about. Propaganda and information control are absolutely core pieces of authoritarian and autocratic governments. And so the more that it takes over, the more that independent media, in fact, that media is being pushed down, the more risk we have of authoritarian society.”

Chay Hofilena, the editor in chief and head of Rappler’s investigations desk, said that fake news was having a particularly noticeable impact in Southeast Asia.

She added that cooperation between media institutions was important to prevent its spread.

Cambodia has also become a victim of the spread of fake news, with Facebook and other social media platforms becoming increasingly important in information flow during the July general election.

Nop Vy, media director of Voice of Democracy, a formerly pro-opposition media outlet in Cambodia, said the fake news was spread in bad faith.

"In a society where there are fewer and fewer independent journalists and more fake news, I think it is harmful to society."

He added that the Cambodian government should do more to prevent the spread of fake news and participating inaccurate fact-checking.

On May 28, the government issued new rules concerning the sharing of information online, but so far the rules have only been applied to a number of independent news outlets reporting critically of the government and ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Ouk Kimseng, an information ministry spokesman, said the fake news was a regional problem that Cambodia does not have a comprehensive solution to at present.

“We already know that millions of messages appear within a second nowadays, so everyone has their own responsibility. We are ready to respond to anything as much as we can because the world is also busy with that issue.”