Fake News and the Pandemic in Southeast Asia
24 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2022
Date Written: March 21, 2022
The rapid growth of internet accessibility and increased number of social media users in Southeast Asia have provided a readily available technology to spread fake news and hate speech. This article discusses the rise of fake news in Southeast Asia in recent times, particularly during Covid-19 pandemic, and examines different legislative responses within the region. Fake news takes several forms. Disinformation campaigns by non-state actors are prevalent in Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, but disinformation campaigns by state actors are most prevalent in Myanmar. All Southeast Asian jurisdictions have legislation to prosecute offenders. Singapore enacted fake news-specific legislation, while the other jurisdictions rely on existing laws such as telecommunications, defamation or cybercrime legislation. A common feature of the legislation is that the definitions of fake news or spreading false information are broad and potentially impact freedom of speech, particularly now some Southeast Asian governments have passed laws that prohibit criticism of the government’s response to the pandemic.
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