Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinion and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship or society sanction.
Through this exercise, many had forgotten that this right carries special duties and responsibilities, therefore be subject to certain restrictions when necessary or respect the right of others such as protection of national security, public order, public health or morals.
Social media in Malaysia has boomed since 2010 till today.
According to the Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister Jailani Johari, about 20.62 million Malaysians own a social media account, which was about two-thirds of the Malaysian population.
I have no argument that social media was really a boon to people, who used it with purpose.
However, it can turn into a bane when not used carefully.
The purpose is should be for personal benefit without harming others, and for the benefit of society and community we live in.
Currently, abuse of social media is widespread.
This is very troubling because if it was not contained, it will be a threat to the nation.
The harmony of this nation must be preserved at all cost.
Just take it for example just recently we all had informed with disturbing Whatsapp fake news distributed a picture that purportedly showed a racially offensive UPSR question.
Apparently ask the student to identify the ethnic community which shows the value of hospitality, respect for elders, and good manners.
From A to D, the choices listed were Chinese, Iban, Indian, and Malay.
It has triggered widespread outrage on social media.
Many accused the government of presenting racial stereotypes.
But it turns out that it was not in any of the UPSR paper because the question was completely fabricated.
The provocateur target victims are not just the normal citizen, even the police had been a victim of this mischievous act as on April there was fake news on Whatsapp saying that Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar had utter negative words against Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
There are stacks of fake news distributed just this year alone.
Of all that, does it really matter?
The damage had been done and it could have sparked a racial riot or at the very least it eroded the trust between government and various ethnic groups in the country.
Take Arab Spring for that matter, what so called ‘people power’ revolutions and how it ended rather badly.
In the US, Hillary Clinton was also a victim of social media fakes news during the election time.
Experts blame an endless barrage of fake news widespread on social media has helped Donald Trump to win the presidential election.
As a Malaysian myself, this troubling me.
It is something that might happen in our next general election (GE14) since it had already happened previously.
During the previous election, opposition leaders had claimed that some 40,000 Bangladeshi had been imported to vote and a blackout had happened in certain counting centres in front of thousands of people.
These news were shared rapidly on social media.
But when questioned by the journalist the opposition bloc denied it.
What is the purpose of this mischievous act?
To erode trust among people on an elected government?
Or winning an election by any means necessary?
Why are we Malaysian allowing ourselves to be played by this provocateur?
This has to stop!
It does not matter which side you are but to spread out fake news that can threaten the national security was not an excuse.
Is freedom of expression ‘the right to cause offence?
We complain about lying politicians when we our-self are contributing to spreading lies.
We claim that Malaysian democracy is dead, while we are contributing to its destruction.
We enable the worst in society.
So if you happen to come across some sort of breaking news from any kind of social media, Whatsapp or etc, sit on it until it gets reported by credible mainstream and online media.
That is where you should read news because it is their job to verify stories.
Because every time you spread out something without checking its authenticity, you are sticking a knife at the democracy’s back.