In this day and age, social media has taken over the rakyat. Everywhere we go we can see the rakyat glued to their smartphones or tablets.

But can the rakyat believe in everything that they read?Which one is false news and which one is genuine news?
How will it impact the rakyat?
Let us take a look.

The situation right now
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In the previous general election, a lot of lies were spread on social media such as Facebook, Watsapp, Twitter, Telegram and so many others. Most of these news which are posted on newsportals are fake and are not verified. Because of these fake news, a lot of confusion and uncertainty has been created. But at the same time, a lot of positive verified news are also being published. Most of these genuine news are posted by mainstream media such as Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, Bernama, the Star, RTM and the New Straits Times. So the rakyat is bombarded with all sorts of news from both the opposition and the mainstream media.

Some of the fake news
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Remember the slander that some 10,000 Bangladeshis were imported to vote during the 13th general elections? The news was proven false. Remember when Rafizi Ramli slandered that the government spent millions to buy BMW cars to transport ministers during the Asean ministerial meeting a few years ago? BMW then refuted the allegation and said that BMW themselves sponsored the cares. And then there is the slander that the country is bankrupt.
This is not true as the country has a healthy cash reserves and the economy continues to grow. And then there are fake news on public holidays, the death of the Sultans and two headed monsters. This cannot continue as it will have adverse implications to the rakyat and the country.

It is against Islam and a sin to spread false news
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Most of the politicians from Pakatan Harapan are Muslims. To the opposition Muslim politicians, you should know better than to spread lies on social media. Penang Mufti Datuk Dr Wan Salim Mohd Nor told Utusan Online that it is a big sin to spread slander, lies and unverified news. So the rakyat, the politicians and the newsportals especially those who are Muslims must stop forwarding lies.

Those who spread false news can go to jail
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The rakyat, politicans and newsportals be warned! You can go to jail for spreading false news. Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd said in a statement on December 20 said that those who spread false news can be investigated under section 505 of the Penal Code. We have also read numerous news in the past of so many people who have been jailed for spreading false news on the Internet. They include housewives, teachers and civil servants.
So the rakyat must be careful on what they post on the Internet.

Barisan Nasional especially Umno must not keep quiet
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Umno and Barisan Nasional must play its part to counter all lies and slander hurled by the opposition on social media. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on December 17 that BN and Umno are now more ready to face online attacks. It is a timely move for Barisan Nasional to repel all these slander and lies. This is an area that BN lacked in the previous general election. BN did not fight back or did not fight back enough. It is time to ramp up the BN social media machinery. It is time to fight fire with fire.

Mainstream media still strong
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Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid said there were a total of 4,702 fake news up to September this year. The fake news include public holidays purportedly announced by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Datuk Seri Najib never announced such a holiday.
But the special thing behind all this is that when the fake news are spread, The rakyat will always seek mainstream media to verify.

Is it true that tomorrow is a public holiday? The rakyat don’t trust social media and prefer to check with mainstream media. This include Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, Astro Awani, Bernama and others. So this shows that mainstream media still has a place among the rakyat.
Thus mainstream media must play its part to spread good and genuine news.

Opposition spread fake news, BN should spread good news
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In this world, there are those who spread good news. But there are also those who spread bad news. Let the opposition spread bad news. Umno and BN on its part must continue to spread good news. Umno and BN must share with the rakyat success stories. News can range between succesful projects such as BR1M and economic success. Eventually the rakyat will know which is good and which is bad news. Let the rakyat be the judge. Sooner or later, the rakyat will know to differentiate between the genuine and the fake news.

Must engage the Gen Y who are first time voters
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Umno and BN must go all out to engage the Gen Y who are first time voters. Datuk Dr Ahmad Zahid said 92 percent of the rakyat active on social media are Gen Y’s aged between 18 and 29 years old. This is a huge number and it is time that the government tackle this group. This is because a lot of the Gen Y’s have not registered to become voters. And a lot of them are fence sitters. With effective social media, the young generation can be swayed to vote for BN. Let’s hope they vote for BN which is the only political party coalition able to bring good to the country.

It’s going to be a Facebook election
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The 14th general elections will be a “Facebook” election. What this means is that whatever the rakyat sees in Facebook or other social media platforms will pretty much influence the rakyat on who they want to vote. UiTM political analyst Dr Sara Chinnasamy said the younger generation tend to look at trending issues on Facebook rather than what Umno and Barisan Nasional has done in the past 71 years. In her column in Berita Harian on December 21, Dr Sara said thus political parties such as UMNO, MIC and MCA should take advantage of social media to convey a good perception of themselves to the younger generation. The Gen Y’s are active on Facebook and Watsapp and thus the political parties must be active on FB too.

Some newsportals are funded by foreigners
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Some newsportals which spread fake news are funded by foreign sponsors. Obviously, their agenda is to bring down Malaysia and the rakyat. On December 15, Jaringan Melayu Malaysia president Azwanddin Hamzah lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Azwanddin wants the MACC to investigate where newsportal the Malaysian Insight received their RM3 million funding. So some newsportals are up to no good hellbent to bring down the country. It is time that the authorities investigate their source of funding and their agenda.

Umno and BN leaders must not be quiet on issues
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Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid said during the previous general elections, the opposition sent cybertroopers to Taiwan to weaken Umno and BN. So this time around, at the upcoming general elections widely expected next year, Umno and BN must unite and strengthen their social media team. This is because some of the rakyat already cast their vote in social media. Umno and BN must go all out to spread the truth to the rakyat. Because the truth will backfire into the face of the opposition who spread the lie.

Rakyat must be wise and don’t believe in everything they read
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The rakyat must not believe in everything that they read. They must check and verify the autheticity of the news. This can be done by checking with authorised sources such as the police, fire and rescue department and all the government ministers and ministries.  The rakyat must check with the source of the news and confirm the matter.

What does it mean to the rakyat
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The rakyat is exposed to both genuine and fake news thanks to the Internet. The rakyat however must know to differentiate between the truth and lies. The rakyat must not believe in whatever they hear 100 percent. They must check and verify the news. This is important so that the rakyat will have truthful information. The rakyat must not be duped into fake news by certain individuals. The rakyat must check because the future of the country is at stake.

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