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PNG Government warns Online media for airing false information

CIVIL legal action must be taken against online news sources who publish false and misleading information that costs millions of kina in lost national investment, income and employment, says PNG Communication and Information Technology Minister Jim Miringtoro.

He specifically targeted online news sites LoopPNG, EMTV and ABC whose recent reports "were completely inaccurate but went viral through global news sources and social media".

"As our country prepares to host the most significant trade and investment forum in our history, we have these online news reporters sending information around the world that is false," Mr Miringtoro said in a statement.

"We have a situation where a single online reporter, usually foreign with little knowledge of our country, can press a button and wipe out tens of millions of Kina in foreign investment and income.

"This is particularly concerning in the current global economic environment, foreign investment and trade markets are fragile and sensitive to sensational reporting."

The minister said that even worse than any monetary cost, the image of our people is further tarnished by the inaccuracy and incompetence of some online reporters.

"We have been changing the perception of our nation particularly over the past five years of our Government.

"Positive interest in our country has been growing and people from Australia to Europe are seeing a different Papua New Guinea.

"They are seeing a Papua New Guinea that is changing and developing and they are seeing a country that is open for business and investment.

"We will not tolerate the damage caused by reporters who report rumours without bothering to check the facts."

He gave an example of a recent attempted robbery in Alotau, where Digicel LoopPNG published a completely false story:

With the picture of a gunman from the Middle East implying they were in Alotau;
Claimed hostages were being held by gunmen when this was not the case;
Claimed that the town was in lockdown when this did not happen.

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