Yangyel Lhaden  

The health ministry, in the past few days, has been debunking rumours and fake news that were going viral on social media.

The Media Council of Bhutan (MCB) has also issued advisory and public notifications to refrain from circulating such falsehoods. Officials urge individuals to report and stop sharing fake news.

One such fake news said that Karma’s Dhaba chef tested positive for Covid-19.

MCB has reported a couple of fake news after verifying the sources and information. If the content is not removed, MCB contacts Facebook office in India through Department of Information Technology and Telecom seeking help to remove the post.

An official said that spreading fake news including sharing images by any person during the time of emergency is punishable under section 437 of the Information, Communication, and Media Act of Bhutan.

The Act states that any person who by means of a public information and communication technology system, sends or attempts to send, any messages which, to the person’s knowledge, is false or misleading with the intent of prejudice to the efficiency of any emergency services, cause alarm or endanger the safety of any person or other things would be guilty of a fourth-degree offence.

The official, Thinlay Zangmo said that in competition to break the news first people often did not check the credibility of the information. “Some posts are made for satirical purposes and we should know to judge that.”

She said that in order not to be manipulated it was important to employ more sophisticated methods in consuming information such as fact-checking and choosing reliable news-source.

MCB through its Facebook page is sensitising people to report fake news, refrain from sharing fake news, how to report them, and on consequences of such acts.

Thinlay Zangmo said that people should share and consume news from only authentic sources or verified information. “If the information you read it too good to be true it is likely to be fake news.”

“We’ve to end the fake news cycle by not clicking forward on every message and to consider consequences of what we share online,” she said.