Satire might be a parodical, even comical, take on fake news…
But the fact’s that fake news is anything but funny.
It’s more than capable of destroying lives and societies.
And perhaps that’s why Singapore’s latest move makes so much sense:
Only by educating our own citizens about deliberate online falsehoods, and how to tackle them, can Singapore truly progress as a nation.
All Recruits Must Learn About Fake News During BMT
According to Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman, who spoke in parliament on 1 March, all recruits going through basic military training will now have to attend an information literacy workshop to teach them how to cope with fake news and deliberate online falsehoods.
Kind of remind you of those lectures whereby recruits are placed in an air-conditioned lecture room after a heavy lunch. It doesn’t help that they most likely have just run 10 km in the morning.
(Just like spotting fake news, they’ll have to keep their eyes open during the lecture)
In his speech, Dr Maliki stressed the need for digital defence, which was incidentally incorporated into the Total Defence Framework last month.
Stating that it’s the age of the Internet and social media, he expressed how the resilience of Singaporeans will be tested during digital attacks, as seen in Singapore and other countries.
He also noted the serious consequences adopted as a result of incapability.
Which is true, if you’ve watched US political thrillers. The repercussions of fake news can lead to a future like Total Recall.
Calling the digital front the “new battlefront”, Dr Maliki attributed the notion to the reliance on digital technology to communicate and consume information.
“Many of these digital dangers show that complacency, ignorance or negligence on the part of individuals could pave the way for an attack with disastrous consequences,” he said, adding that every individual is at the forefront of digital defence.
According to a study conducted by media company We Are Social last year, Singapore has one of the highest levels of Internet penetration in the world. People here also spend an average of two hours daily on social media.
The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) will be working with the National Library Board (NLB) to bring the workshop to recruits. It has been working with other government agencies as part of a “whole-of-nation” effort against digital threats.
But get this; recruits aren’t the only ones…
As elsewhere, the Singapore Armed Forces and Mindef servicemen and employees will also be educated on hostile information campaigns and fake news.
“We hope that collectively, these efforts will help our servicemen better understand the role of fake news in modern warfare, the steps they can take in response, and strengthen cyber hygiene as a whole,” he said.
In support, Dr Maliki cited a 2007 attack on Estonia, which closed down online services of banks, media outlets and the government. The SingHealth breach in June last year, in which personal details of 1.5 million patients were stolen, was also brought into the equation.
He also expressed how false accounts of incidents could inflame xenophobia and communalism, and damage social harmony.
Which leads to a new question: are students also educated on fake news, too?
Let’s put a stop to Fake News.
Satire is one thing.
Fake news is quite another.
So before your loved ones get hurt…
Maybe we should all support Dr Malik’s proposal, in the hopes that Singapore becomes a better nation in the process.
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