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Thai authorities set up centre to investigate fake news surrounding Covid-19

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Thai authorities are setting up a centre to investigate fake news surrounding Covid-19. The Department of Special Investigation says such misguidances could hamper the government’s efforts in containing the current pandemic.

The task force to combat so-called “false information” started last Saturday and is headed by deputy director-general Supat Thamthanarak. The move falls in line with Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin’s policy in supporting the investigations being conducted under the DSI law.

Supat says fake news has been circulating throughout the Covid pandemic, with such misleading information ranging from the promotion of herbs as a virus cure to certain drug recommendations by so-called senior doctors.

The anti-fake news centre says it will investigate attempts to spread such news to mislead the public about the Covid-19 situation, focusing on online and social media platforms. The task force will be required to submit reports to the Justice Ministry and others overseeing it.

Back in February, however, Thai police arrested 35 people for allegedly spreading false information about the coronavirus. Some posts shared online claimed that migrant workers had broken out of a quarantine facility, another claimed that the coronavirus is actually not a virus, but a bacteria somehow connected to 5G spectrum radio frequencies.

Only 4 people actually wrote posts online with false information while the other 31 people shared fake news posts. Digital Economy and Society Ministry’s Anti-Fake News Centre and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission teamed up with police for the crackdown on fake news regarding the pandemic.

Even earlier this year, COFACT Thailand published a list of the top 5 fake news stories and myths, relating Covid-19, that was circulating among Thai netizens at that time:

  • All Thais must enter lockdown
  • Drinking lemonade can kill coronavirus
  • Those who adopt an alkaline and vegan diets will lower their chance of becoming infected
  • Mailing parcels can pass on the coronavirus
  • Standing in direct sunlight can kill the coronavirus (something most Thais would NEVER do)

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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