Expert Raises Concerns About the Risk of Fake News

A UNESCO expert put combating fake news and misinformation online at the center of his seminar at Cambodia ICT Camp 2022.
Pheap Bunleng speaks at Cambodia ICT Camp 2022 in Siem Reap. Kiripost/via Sok Raksmey
Pheap Bunleng speaks at Cambodia ICT Camp 2022 in Siem Reap. Kiripost/via Sok Raksmey

SIEM REAP, Fake news is driving public mistrust in the media, an expert warned at this year’s Cambodia ICT Camp.

According to a UNESCO expert, information disorder, including misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation, are dangerous.

UNESCO’s Pheap Bunleng said the spread of fake news has caused citizens to have less trust in professional media news, raising concerns that the increasing amount of fake news has driven people towards unethical media over professional media.

Bunleng spoke at the first-day of Cambodia’s ICT Camp 2022, organized by Open Development Cambodia (ODC) with funding from the Netherlands.

[ Cambodia’s Annual ICT Camp Celebrates Successful Start ]

Observing the rising risk of mis/disinformation sharing, UNESCO has built a solution that promotes the quality of journalism through capacity building and the promotion of Media Information and Digital Literacy (MPTC) Competency Framework.

The initiative of misinformation or disinformation framework focuses on both news creators and consumers.

“UNESCO’s initiative in combating mis/disinformation focused on the building capacity of news creators like journalists. At the same time, news consumers are also targeted to make sure they have knowledge of digital media and know how to evaluate, analyze, and use information wisely,” he added.

On June 20-21, UNESCO in collaboration with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication successfully ended a two-day consultation workshop in Phnom Penh. Forty-one representatives from all sectors of Cambodian society and Government joined to provide input and validate the National Media, Information and Digital Literacy (MIDL) Competency Framework.

Citizens are empowered to become critical information consumers and to engage with new technologies in order to effectively participate in society through MIDL.

This framework is being developed by UNESCO and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications in collaboration with various ministries, civil society, and the private sector, with technical assistance from Asia Media and Information Centre and funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Sor Chandara, a DW Akademie coordinator who also spoke at the camp in Siem Reap, led a session, “Fake news: Fact checking and verification tools”. He said fact checking is based on four main pillars; text, photo, video, and deep fake.

Fact checking and verification tools are important in identifying fake articles and posts. There are many indicators to check further and verify information.

“Fact checking is the process of checking whether it is right or wrong. Both citizens and politicians have an obligation to check the facts of information. It is dangerous for politicians. Verification tools are available online for checking and scanning the photo and video,” Chandara said.

Sor Chandara speaks at Cambodia ICT Camp 2022 in Siem Reap. Kiripost/Iea Sonita
Sor Chandara speaks at Cambodia ICT Camp 2022 in Siem Reap. Kiripost/Iea Sonita

Chandara urged journalists to use open sources in investigating and fact checking information.

“Journalists need open sources to investigate and verify the information. While international journalists also use all that open source,'' he added.

In the digital world, fake news spreads faster regarding developed and developing countries.

“In social media or new media, fake news spreads faster. It doesn’t mean developing countries like Cambodia speedily spread fake news, developed countries do the same. The U.S., Europe, and Germany are also in a trap of fake news,” he said.

There are many types of fake news. To spot and identify fake news possibly done in different ways according to the situation of the story.

“Misinformation the author has no intention, while disinformation the author has the intention to give wrong information and to make chaos,” Chandara stated.

UNESCO defends and promotes freedom of expression, media independence and pluralism, and the building of inclusive knowledge societies underpinned by universal access to information and the innovative use of digital technologies.

In support of combating mis/disinformation, UNESCO has published a book, “Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training”.