“The trend of notifications from fake news whistleblowers compared to last year has increased by leaps and bounds, but after screening the reports, it was found the total [number of complaints] that met the criteria for investigation, and the proportion of fake news as a whole, has decreased,” said Ms Atcharin, who also serves as director of the Anti-Fake News Center.
While the number of fake news articles and posts screened each month rose from 1.6 million last year to 22mn this year, the number of articles needing further investigation had fallen by 8.65%, she said.
“However, after conducting further investigation with relevant agencies, it was found that the proportion of fake news had dropped by 26.43%, true news had increased by 28.66% and distorted news had declined by 6.69%,” Ms Atcharin said.
“During the COVID-19 epidemic, from the first wave to the present, the Anti-Fake News Center has been involved in the handling of fake news to reduce public panic as well as communicate accurate information and create awareness of fake news for people through various channels,” Ms Atcharin said.
From Jan 25 2020 to Aug 31 2021, the Anti-Fake News Center has screened more than 104 million messages, Ms Atcharin said.
“Of those, 10,283 were found to meet the criteria and sent to relevant agencies for review. Of those, 5,348 were news stories, with the highest proportion being in the health category, 55.60%, followed by the state policy category, 41.20%, and the economy category, 3.20%,” she added.
Ms Atcharin also noted that the top five fake news / distorted news throughout Southern Thailand this past year were: 1. Southern region, continuous storms, heavy rains and floods; 2. Flooded Ban Phru, Songkhla province, designed a red zone; 3. Tropical Storm Dujuan enters Thailand; 4. List of 10 provinces locked down, do not travel in-out; and 5. The Ministry of Education announcing the cessation of classes at all schools from June 29 to July 12.
Ms Atcharin noted that the agency worked with police to successfully prosecute 59 cases during budget year 2020 (Oct 2019-Sept 2020), and have so far prosecuted 57 cases this budget year (Oct 2020-Sept 2021).
In pursuing legal action against those disseminating fake news, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society worked with law enforcement agencies including the Anti-Fake News and Security Center of Royal Thai Police (ANSCOP) and the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCDC), Ms Atcharin explained.
Together, the agencies took legal action against 158 offenders this year, resulting in 59 successful convictions. Last year the agencies took legal action against 135 offenders, resulting in 57 successful convictions, she said.
The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society will continue its efforts in its mission to counter fake news, Ms Atcharin said.
“We need to accelerate our immunity from believing in fake news and fake news and promote and support the creation of awareness to how to identify and deal with fake news,” she said.
“Another important way is to raise awareness about the safe use of technology for people and society, so that people know how to counter fake news. We need to emphasize social responsibility in disseminating, forwarding and sharing information,” she added.
“The ministry will also push for the inclusion of a media literacy curriculum in schools on fake news literacy, including giving consideration before sharing,” Ms Atcharin said.