'Fake news' worries media
Punishments severe, industry meet told
The media must work harder to screen news articles that may impact voters' decisions in the March 24 general election, especially so-called fake news stories which are circulated on social media, a seminar was told on Friday.
The mainstream media is responsible for verifying information and news to ensure it doesn't report incorrect or false news the seminar jointly organised by Thai Journalists Association, Thai PBS and Thammasat University heard.
"When it comes to fake and malicious news or information, everyone involved in its dissemination is liable from a legal point of view," said Asst Prof Kittipong Kamolthamwong, a law lecturer at Thammasat.
"If the fake news results in damage limited to only an individual, the parties disseminating will probably face a libel suit."
But if such news results in greater damage to the public, the parties publicising it may be found guilty of a more serious offence such as violation of the Computer Crime Act, which carries far tougher punishments, he added.
Ongart Klampaiboon, an adviser to the Democrat Party, yesterday said there had been attempts to spread fake news suggesting party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva had held clandestine meetings with prime ministerial candidates about forming a new government.
This misinformation was circulated along with a picture of Mr Abhisit sitting with prime ministerial candidates from other parties, he said.
"The photo was actually taken while Mr Abhisit was waiting to participate in a television debate with those candidates," according to Mr Ongart.
As the national election draws nearer, mudslinging on social media, including the spreading of false or misleading information, is increasingly becoming a political weapon to sabotage rivals.
In a similar case, the Criminal Court on Thursday accepted for trial a lawsuit filed by prosecutors against 10 people accused of violating the computer crime law by circulating false information about Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last June.
Implicated in the case are Thipwari Phonbua, Thongchai Laosaeng, Nalinthon Wichairitthiphat, Wiraphong Diwongmat, Apirak Rueanakaeo, Thanawat Phakdi, Soraphong Panwichai, Sakda Sukwari, Thanakrit Thapngoen and Jetsada Phuangngam. All have maintained their innocence.
They were implicated in a police investigation into the Facebook page "Khonthaiuk", (Thais living in the UK), that on June 13 last year published a picture of Gen Prayut and his deputy Prawit Wongsuwon supposedly taken in the UK along with a story which alleged Gen Prayut had made the trip with his wife in an attempt to get away from Thailand.
The story claimed the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a rebellion case against him.
Gen Prayut's actual visit to Britain wasn't until June 20-22 and was for a bilateral meeting with his British counterpart.
The same post also claimed that Gen Prayut planned to procure a 91.2-billion-baht satellite.