Centre goes live to fight fake news

Centre goes live to fight fake news

Ministry says information will be verified within 2 hours

Buddhipongse Punnakanta, the minister of digital economy and society, at the official opening of the Anti Fake News Center on Friday.
Buddhipongse Punnakanta, the minister of digital economy and society, at the official opening of the Anti Fake News Center on Friday.

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry aims to spend 60 million baht on running its much-touted anti-fake-news centre in fiscal 2020 and will work with 200 organisations and the Police Cyber Taskforce (PCT) to combat disinformation spreading online.

The centre was formally launched by DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta at the TOT head office in Laksi district yesterday.

Thailand is believed to be an early adopter of such a centre in Asean, with peers focused on using laws to tackle fake news.

"The centre will only verify the truth and give feedback to citizens," Mr Buddhipongse said. "We did not establish the centre to support any specific parties or violate citizens' rights of expression."

Information will be verified within two hours by the centre, he said.

Under the operation, a hybrid of human and artificial intelligence (AI) will help verify information shared online. Some 70% of 300,000 to 400,000 news-related pieces of information do not identify their sources.

"Fake news is one of the critical threats that could harmfully affect people's lives and the economy," Mr Buddhipongse said, adding that disinformation with malicious intent risks causing incitement and social division or ruining the country's image.

Fake news could have a massive impact on Thailand, which has 57 million internet users, he said. There are 53 million Facebook users and 44 million Line users in the country.

"Some 200 organisations in our network will each send two people to serve as contact persons within 24 hours who have to receive cases and help verify whether their obtained information is true or false," Mr Buddhipongse said.

The centre will make use of state telecom TOT's resources to track suspicious news. AI and human workers will look at the top 10-20 most-shared news items or messages on social media platforms, including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter.

People are also allowed to send information they find suspicious to the centre so it can be checked and verified with relevant organisations. The verified information will be shared through online channels.

The public can send information via the centre's channels on Facebook, Line and Twitter, or use the website www.antifakenewscenter.com.

Any information deemed as infringement will be forwarded to the Royal Thai Police for investigation.

The four main content areas subject to stringent checks are those considered to affect people's life and property, cause social divide, spur mass misinformation or ruin the country's reputation.

Deputy police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk said the PCT was set up to work with the anti-fake-news centre.

He said the PCT will accept complaints about crimes committed through social media and online channels.

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