Samoa joins battle against fake news

Samoa has been put forward as the host of a conference for information ministers from the Asia-Pacific region as well as key Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (A.I.B.D.) partners.

The Samoa conference proposal was agreed to recently at the Asia Media Summit 2019 in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia from June 12-14. Discussions at the two day summit in the Cambodian province revolved around the topic “Media Digitalisation focusing on Developing Markets” and called for laws to be enacted to fight fake news and cybercrimes. 

The conference was organised by the Cambodian Ministry of Information in partnership with the A.I.B.D. Over 600 media representatives from 42 countries attended and participated in the June 12-14 conference. 

The threat posed by disinformation and fake news and its impact on governments, media, private sector and the community were widely discussed. The conference organisers picked cyber-crimes and fake news as the main threats, which pose risks to an individual’s rights and security in the region and around the world. 

The conference participants also agreed to hold a special meeting of information ministers from Asia-Pacific with the participation of key A.I.B.D. partners in Samoa in September this year, added the conference statement of outcomes.

“They were unanimous that Asia-Pacific needs a road map to counter fake news, stressing that the region should come together on this phenomenon for the protection of harmonious and inclusive societies,” the conference outcome document stated.

The A.I.B.D. will send a proposal to Samoa in 15 days to move this event forward, it added.

The June 12-14 Cambodian conference attracted Information ministers and other senior officials of the Asia-Pacific region, who gathered for the Asia-Pacific sideline ministerial meeting, agreeing to take a collective stand against fake news, said a joint statement on Thursday.

Information ministers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines as well as the standing commissioner of the Korean Communications Commission and Information vice-minister of Samoa vowed on Wednesday to take a collective stand on critical media issues, in particular, to discuss a way forward in combating the spread of fake news across media platforms, and its negative effects on society, the statement said.

“The ministers and senior officials agreed to launch the Angkor Fake News Initiative, a year-long research initiative on fake news and its impact on society,” it said, adding that the A.I.B.D. and UNESCO are taking the lead in this endeavor.

“The research findings and recommendations will help create a mechanism of legislation in member countries and beyond for appropriate remedial measures to fight the menace of fake news which is now rampant in all parts of the world,” the statement said.

The ministers and senior officials also decided to use the annual Asia Media Summit as a permanent platform for ministers and media stakeholders in Asia-Pacific region to examine other critical media issues, including challenges and opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it added.

Comment is being sought from the Samoa Government on the proposed conference in Apia in September this year. 

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