The Thai authorities set up a centre to investigate fake news around Covid-19. The Department of Special Investigation says such deceptions could hamper the government’s efforts to contain the current pandemic.
The task force to combat so-called “false information” was launched last Saturday and is headed by deputy. Director-General Supat Thamthanarak. The move is in line with the policy of Justice Minister, Somsak Thepsutin, in support of the investigations being conducted under the DSI law.
Director Supat says fake news was circulating during the Covid pandemic, with such misleading information ranging from the promotion of herbs as a virus treatment to certain drug recommendations by so-called senior doctors.
The anti-fake news centre says it will investigate attempts to spread such news to mislead the public about the Covid-19 situation, targeting online and social media platforms. The task force will have to submit reports to the Ministry of Justice and other regulators.
However, in February, Thai police arrested 35 people for allegedly spreading false information about the coronavirus. Some posts shared online claimed that migrant workers had escaped from a quarantine facility, another claimed that the coronavirus is not actually a virus, but a bacteria somehow linked to 5G spectrum radio frequencies.
Only 4 of them actually wrote online messages with false information, while the other 31 people shared fake news messages. The Anti-Fake News Center of the Department of Digital Economy and Society and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission worked with the police in the crackdown on fake news about the pandemic.
Even earlier this year, COFACT Thailand published a list of the top 5 fake news stories and myths related to Covid-19 circulating among Thai internet users at the time:
– Only Thais have to be in a lockdown.
Drinking lemonade can kill coronavirus.
– Those on an alkaline and vegan diet reduce their chances of getting infected.
– Postal parcels can transmit the coronavirus.
* Standing in direct sunlight can kill the coronavirus (something most Thais would NEVER do).
Catch up on more stories here