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Asia Insight

Asia's war on 'fake news' raises real fears for free speech

Governments walk fine line between fighting rumors and stifling dissent

SHOTARO TANI, Nikkei staff writer | Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos

JAKARTA -- With nothing more than a WhatsApp message, Indonesia's government in early May made its position on "fake news" clear: zero tolerance.

For a few days, media reports had been circulating about a decision to issue visas to Israelis, citing the website of the "Israel Indonesia Agency." Yet no one had heard of the organization, and Indonesia does not recognize Israel. Then, with a lunchtime dispatch on the messaging app, the foreign ministry shot the story down, calling the news "wrong and misleading."  

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