Fake news, social media worries

Concerns about fake news and the impact of social media in the Pacific Islands are some of the challenges that authorities in the region have to address.

Chairman of Policy and Regulation Forum for the Pacific, Charles Punaha, said this recently when discussing issues that will be discussed during the 11th Asia Pacific Telecommunity conference in Apia, Samoa.

Representatives from the Asia-Pacific region, as part of the conference objectives, will address issues on privacy, data protection and cyber security. 

Speaking to Samoa Observer, Mr. Punaha said the region continues to experience challenges relating to cyber security.

“An example is in Papua New Guinea, a lot of fake news has been communicated through social media, and in the process they are defamatory and people are not accountable for such actions.

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“In terms of privacy issues nowadays, of course, there is a big data being hosted by the social media and there is no guarantee that the privacy of the citizens is being protected,” he said.

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal early this year, according to Mr. Punaha, is an example of online platforms illegally accessing personal profiles.

“An example is when we look at the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal—which was a major political scandal in early 2018 when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of people's Facebook profiles without their consent—and used it for political purposes.”

He said another concern is the security of critical telecommunications infrastructure, as they are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

“We have to make sure that we put in place protection to make sure that we have resilient networks for Information and communications technology. 

“We now have cyber security legislations in countries across the Pacific like Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji to address cybercrimes.

“We are now looking at setting up cyber security centers in the region through collaboration and assistance by the Australian government,” he added.

The three-day Asia-Pacific conference ends today.

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