Singapore tells Facebook to correct anti-government post

Singapore government asked Facebook to issue a correction notice on a post published by the State Times Review page. The country believes that the anti-government post contains “false statements of fact.”

States Times Review (STR) is an online website that publishes political material. In its Facebook page, activist Alex Tan, who is the editor, has made accusations of the arrest of a supposed whistleblower and election rigging. The government of Singapore claims the allegations to be false, and it has issued a clarification statement that says, “No one has been arrested or charged.”

On Thursday, Singapore ordered Alex Tan to correct the post, which he refused. Tan has a stance that as an Australian citizen, he would not follow the rules made by a foreign country.

Today, Singapore officials, overseeing the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), has ordered Facebook to publish a correction notice on the anti-government post. States Times Review is accused of using falsehoods to criticize the ruling People’s Action Party in it.

In response to Singapore’s action, Tan instead has shared the offending article further on Twitter.

Facebook has declined to comment on this issue. The post is still available at the time of writing.

The fake news law

Singapore government passed a fake news law at the start of October 2019. It has given authority to the state to order social media platforms to remove or edit the false published news or statements against the public interests.

On the other side, the government has also imposed hefty fines on people found guilty of doing so. The repercussions of using fake accounts or bots to spread fake news include penalties up to $1 million (£563,000, $733,700) as well as individuals could face a jail term up to 10 years. 

Brad Bowyer’s Facebook post

It is the second time that the new controversial law is exercised. Before this, the government used this law on November 25 against Singaporean politician Brad Bowyer. Bowyer is a member of a political opposition group (Progress Singapore Party) and he questioned the independence of state investment firms on November 13 in a post. 

Bowyer edited the post in this way, “this post contains false statements of fact, for the correct facts, click here. [url]”

In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Singapore is ranked 151 among 180 countries.

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