What in the fakery: Malaysia’s Jakim launches #HentikanFitnah campaign to combat fake news 

Photo: Jakim/Facebook
Photo: Jakim/Facebook

These days, a hashtag can really do so much. In its effort to combat “fake news”, Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) launched a “stop fitnah (slander) on social media” campaign with a #HentikanFitnah hashtag to promote it. 

Jakim said it will use hadith (the deeds and sayings of Prophet Muhammad) and lessons from the Quran to increase awareness of the negative effects of spreading slander.

The public was invited to support the campaign by posting online using the hashtag #hentikanfitnahdimediasosial (stop misinformation online) and by using the campaign logo as their WhatsApp profile photo.

In a statement, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad, the same minister who said attending the Bon Odori festival can stray Muslims from the “right” path, denounced fake news as unethical and harmful to society. He said the Religious Affairs Department’s (Jakim) #HentikanFitnah campaign aims to put an end to such acts. 

A bit of an oxymoron considering that “news” by definition is supposed to be true, if it is not true then it is not news. 

“This initiative is very apt because we want to ensure that society gets the right information or news that is authentic and true.”

“Immoral activities on social media, such as news reports that are fake and sometimes recycled, aim to spark hatred and anger among society,” Idris said on Facebook last night.

Idris said that in order to interrupt the cycle and protect future generations from the damaging impacts of defamation, social media users must act responsibly now.

He also sought the media’s help in combating misinformation and said the effort would be worthless if there were no cooperation among media practitioners. 

“This virtuous effort would not have any impact if there is no cooperation among media players.”

“Let us join forces to stop slander on social media, and may it be eradicated,” the minister added.

The department also produced a public service announcement (probably #sponsored) video featuring Idris and some celebrities speaking against slander. 

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