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MANILA/BANGKOK: Governments across Southeast Asia have a history of using laws and the judiciary to curb press freedoms -- now, they have found a handy crutch to lean on as they intensify clampdowns: U.S. President Donald Trump's "fake news" mantra. Most worrying to media rights advocates is that several countries are promoting new laws or expanding existing regulations to make publishing fake news an offence. The fear is that, rather than focusing on false stories published on social media, authoritarian leaders will use the new laws to target legitimate news outlets that are critical of them.John Nery, associate editor and a columnist at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which has also come under attack from the government, said "fake news" is now glibly used by people who don't like what they hear.Strongman Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen regularly accuses critical media outlets of spreading "fake news".In his latest attack Saturday, he backed Trump for announcing "fake news" awards.
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