Seria grassroots leaders: Stop spreading false information

National 2 minutes, 5 seconds

BELAIT

GRASSROOTS leaders in Seria are warning their community not to spread false information which could tarnish the image of their town after police invalidated a viral message alluding to a kidnapping in Lorong 3.

Dated October 8, the viral message warns residents not to open their doors past midnight to anyone, claiming a child from Lorong 3 has gone missing and is yet to be found.

The message also instructs recipients to spread and forward the message’s content to other group chats, and to be on the look out for a Toyota Kijang.

A spokesperson from the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) yesterday said that no reports has been made with regards to the incident.

Penghulu of Seria Hj Jamail Hj Linap said members of the public should not be so quick to take such messages at face value.

He explained that such messagges can cause panic and unfairly tarnish the image of individuals or a village.

“The police denied the case yesterday, and we have reason to believe it was a hoax,” said Hj Jamail.

As social media begins to permeate our day-to-day consciousness, the penghulu said that messages, even if later proved false or wrong, can have damaging effects or consequences.

“If there are constantly messages saying negative things about a certain person or place, and people continue to come upon this information without questioning or verifying, they will be inclined to believe that it may be true,” he said.

For such incidents, he said, the public should rely on information released by the relevant authorities, which is either directly published by the organisation themselves or issued through official media outlets.

Village Head of Lorong 3 Hj Sadin Hj Ibrahim said the spreading of false messages about criminal activity only served to heighten the fear of crime in the community, potentially causing disharmony amongst its members.

“We all should be vigilant (to prevent crime), but there is a point where misinformation can breed too much fear – causing community members to (blame) or distrust each other,” he said.

“It also puts unnecessary burden on the authorities as they have to prove every rumour wrong, otherwise the public are left to simply believe the rumours that they have read.”

The RBPF previously highlighted that spreading false information that could create chaos and anxiety among the public is an offence under Section 34 of the Public Order Act, Cap 148.

Those charged and found guilty of the offence can face up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of $3,000.

The Brunei Times