Fake news is a form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media or online social media. Digital news has brought back and increased the usage of fake news, or yellow journalism.
Addressing an emergency news conference on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at the Health Ministry in Congo Town, outside Monrovia, Solicitor General Cephus also threatened to impound vehicles caught in violation of the state of emergency and preventive measures.
He said freedom of assembly and freedom of speech among others have so far been suspended, but as a responsible government they have been a bit flexible with freedom of speech, something, he said, some media institutions have abused over the period.
“We will act and act timely, we will not allow people to be divided due to fake news and misinformation. Fake news has over the period frightened the society and the government is under obligation to help protect its people,” Cllr. Cephus, who is also the Chief Prosecutor of Liberia, asserted.
The Ministry of Justice official acknowledged that the government is in a difficult period, as such, it is time to unite forces and take the fight against the coronavirus very seriously.
However, he clarified that the move is not meant to exercise power or silence the media but to ensure the right and professional thing must be done and followed to the core.
“This is a state of emergency where certain rights are suspended,” he stated. Cllr. Cephas told reporters that they will use the law to protect all, saying “we will not sit on our heels and allow a handful of people to jeopardize the security of the country.”
He said there will be no further notice to any media house but will now take the drastic action, especially by seizing their equipment and shutting down of such media entity caught spreading fake news, noting that they will not be arrested.
“I am not saying you should not report but report only the truth else we will take the legal decision necessary,” Cllr. Cephas added.