Information spread through social media can be dangerous if they aren’t checked or sourced, and something like false COVID-19 vaccine information can be especially detrimental as it could be widely spread. A 46-year-old woman posted a video on Facebook that did exactly that—and has been fined RM12,000, or six months in jail in default, by Sessions Court.
The woman posted a video on her Facebook profile page—Kak Siti Wakembang—on 25 May. The video with a similar title has been widely circulated as early as January this year—as seen through a tweet by doctor @khairul_hafidz, which means that this isn’t the first time that a video like this has circulated on the internet.
The similar video, titled “Lelaki ini bongkar bahayanya v*ksin COVID-19 (This man reveals the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine)”, gained 59K shares, 62K reactions and a whopping 2 million views back in January.
In the same tweet, the doctor compared the differences in views and shares of the misinformation video with the views and shares of a video with “field experts”. Compared to the 2 million views the false news video received, the video from TVAlhijrah only received 25K views.
“Look at the difference between a video from experts, and one from not. Look at the differences in views and shares. This is the challenge in educating the public,” tweeted Khairul Hafidz.
Sessions Court judge M M Edwin Paramjothy said that the woman’s action “hampered the government’s efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”. The woman who was fined said that she admitted to spreading the video with “the intention of causing alarm among the public”.
“I plead guilty… in this case, my intention was simply to get the comments of my friends and for them to give their opinions on the video,” she said.
She was also unrepresented during court and pleaded for a lenient sentence on the grounds that she was unemployed and “did not intend for the video to go viral”. Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur prosecution director Kalmizah Salleh, however, urged the court to mete out a deterrent sentence.
This week, we also reported of man who was arrested for claiming that 14 of his family members had died due to COVID-19 to gain public sympathy. He had also been collecting donations amounting to RM91,000 since June.