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Don’t viral fake news; if unsure check with police

Of late, the Sarawak Community Policing Association (SCPA) has received many unauthentic news in social media from members of the public.

For example, a 2014 case of a missing vehicle at Premier 101 in Kuching was circulated on Nov 28 in social media. Many believed it to be true.

It created so much anxiety. I received messages from many friends asking me to viral the news. I decided to play safe and checked the authenticity of the source of the news and I found out the incident happened four years ago in August, 2014.

Then there was a video clip being circulated about a vehicle theft at a petrol station. The case did not happen in Kuching at all!

The circulation of unverified crime news in social media may create unnecessary confusion, anxiety and false citizens’ perception of crime.

Be forewarned! Those who circulate fake news may be punishable under the country’s existing laws.

Kuching is a safe place; our recent survey findings show that citizens’ perception of fear of crime is at 19.7 percent. Kuching is one of the safest cities in Malaysia, thanks to the community’s cohesion and communal living.

I therefore call upon members of the public to check with the police before circulating crime news on social media.

Social media impacts our daily life and many of us tend to believe viral news. Misuse of information is a threat faced by the users of social media.

Most of the time, the users themselves are to blame as they end up sharing content that should not be in the public eye. The confusion arises from a lack of understanding of how the private and public elements of an online profile actually work.

Let us play our individual role in fighting crime by not creating fear in the neighbourhood.

DATUK LAU PANG HENG,
Chairman, Sarawak Community Policing Association

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