WKWSCI Steps Up Fight Against Fake News

Associate Professor Edson C Tandoc Jr. leads the school in the fight against fake news, with two new research grants from the Ministry of Education and Whatsapp Inc.

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The Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information is stepping up its fight against global digital threats like fake news, with both faculty members and students rolling out media literacy campaigns and curriculum, and research on fake news.

One leading example is Associate Professor Edson C Tandoc Jr., who received new grants this year amounting to $123,000 from the Ministry of Education and Whatsapp Inc., for the two new research papers on fake news that he is currently working on.

Assoc Prof. Edson was awarded these grants of $67,000 and $56,000 in recognition of his exemplary research papers on fake news, and will be used to further his research in the respective field.

“As researchers, we don’t just try to understand phenomena. It’s about using the findings to come up with solutions that can help solve the problem on fake news”

Associate Professor Edson C Tandoc Jr., course coordinator of Global Media Issues and Policy

“As researchers, we don’t just try to understand phenomena. It’s about using the findings to come up with solutions that can help solve the problem on fake news,” he said.

Throughout his time as a research scholar in the field of communication and journalism, Assoc Prof. Edson has won many awards for his research papers. His commentary on correcting online falsehoods was published on Channel NewsAsia in April.

He also holds prestigious positions, such as an Associate Editor of Digital Journalism and the Secretary of the Journalism Studies Division of the International Communication Association.

In addition, Assoc Prof. Edson is equipping WKWSCI students with a discerning eye in fake news detection. He has re-designed the Global Media Issues and Policy module together with the school, to help students develop media literacy and fight the spread of fake news.

The updated module, which was launched in August 2018, now includes a new area of focus - identifying and curbing the spread of fake news.

While the module initially had a general focus on global policy and legal issues, it has since morphed into one that gives students the freedom to study the global issue of fake news through hands-on activities such as creating their own fake news articles, debates on current fake news topics and presentations on fake news situations in different countries.

Assoc Prof. Edson felt that it was imperative to help students understand present day fake news, in line with the spike in the number of fake news incidences globally, such as the erroneously reported news of the death of Singapore’s late founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

“It’s scary that people are consuming fake news like it’s real news,” he said.

Moving forward, he has plans to extend the module, which is currently only offered to WKWSCI students, to students from other schools in the hopes of allowing students to have a more in-depth learning experience.

There have also been efforts on the parts of the WKWSCI students to increase the awareness of digital threats, as final year students chose to focus on fake news issues for their Final Year Projects.

Something’s Phishy, an FYP campaign by Cyrus Chng, Phyllicia Gan, Oh Chin Ying and Amanda Tan (all CS’19), aims to educate the public on ways to protect themselves from phishing scams.

VIDEO: SOPHIA KUEK

The students also received the Better Internet x Youth Call-for-Proposals sponsorship award by Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S. Iswaran in March, and were also featured on Channel NewsAsia for their laudable effort towards educating the public on fake news.

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