TL;DR – We need to be discerning of what we read.
A Facebook page that seemed to be set up by Presidential hopeful Mr Salleh Marican, or by his supporters, surfaced recently. A post on that page made comments on the hijab issue. The post talked about how the hijab was not part of the Malay dress code before the 1970s and increasing religiosity in the Middle East and around the region has eroded Malay culture in Singapore.
The hijab issue is a sensitive one. It had, in the past, stirred up strong sentiments from different races. It is an even more sensitive now since Mdm Halimah Yacob, another Presidential hopeful, wears hijab.
It was fake news
Mothership.sg picked up that post and attributed it to Mr Salleh. But it turned out that Mr Salleh has nothing to do with that Facebook page. In fact, Mr Salleh’s team had reported the page to Facebook and it appears that Facebook has removed the page. Mothership.sg has since removed the post and posted an apology.
Not sure who did it or why
It’s still unclear who had set up that Facebook page that impersonated Mr Salleh or his fans. It’s also unclear why the people who had set up that page made those comments about the hijab issue. Did they do it intentionally to smear Mr Salleh? Were they out to sabotage Mr Salleh’s campaign?
Some people think that the page was set up by supporters of the other presidential hopefuls. That is understandable. Why else would anyone want to set up a page like that? Why else would anyone make such a post? That said, it is such an amateurish attempt that would have been detected and countered quickly by Mr Salleh’s actual campaign team.
So perhaps it was just some people trying to stir up some confusion and trouble. But that in itself is already quite serious. Because it goes to show that there are elements in our society that would interfere with our elections through underhanded means. And they can get away with it because a lot of people would share things through social media without verifying.
But it’s an important lesson for us all
What this means is that we need to be discerning in things we read and share. Always maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. Don’t live in our own echo chamber where we only get news and opinions from the same few sources that already support our existing points of view. Try to verify “news” from multiple sources, and especially those that espouses views and opinions that differ from our own.
And don’t forward or share “news” and links before verifying.
And yes, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.