MCMC launches official Telegram channel to combat fake COVID-19 news

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has set up an official Telegram channel for its information verification portal, sebenarnya.my. The channel will focus on efforts to address the spread of fake news on social media including the COVID-19 issue.

MCMC will share all content regarding COVID-19 in the form of news, announcements, awareness, reminders, and common questions that have been verified by Ministry of Health Malaysia, either through its official social media accounts, or through the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC). The CPRC also has its own Telegram channel. 

MCMC also advised the public not to disseminate unverified news in order to avoid unwanted confusion. It added that it will continue to intensify enforcement efforts in controlling the spread of fake news for the sake of mutual prosperity.

Launched in March 2017, the sebenarnya.my portal is part of MCMC's efforts to combat the spreading of false news which it then said is becoming more rampant of late. Through the portal, members of the public can check and report news items that have not been authenticated, which they could have received either through social media, short messaging services, blogs or websites.

Last month, the MCMC issued a warning to the public not to disseminate any unauthorised information affecting race, religion and the royal institution. According to a media statement, any sharing of content that is false, offensive and threatening is an offense and penalties are punishable by a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment a year or both.

MCMC's official Telegram channel comes shortly before the Malaysian government banned its citizens from travelling abroad from 18 to 31 March and the restriction of all foreign entry during the period. In a latest speech, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said this is in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, which saw an increase of 190 cases on 15 March and 125 new cases on 16 March. Malaysians who have just returned from overseas are also required to undergo health checks and self-quarantine for 14 days. Besides banning travel, the Malaysian government has also ordered all businesses and houses of worship to be closed, except for supermarkets, public markets, and convenience stores selling daily necessities.

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