Facebook ‘legally required’ by Singapore government to carry clarification on States Times Review post

A post on the Facebook page of States Times Review has been targeted with a notice from the Singapore Government under the Prevention of Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

Interestingly enough, the clarification was posted not by the owner of States Times Review, but by Facebook. Under the provisions of POFMA, Facebook has linked to a clarification on the government’s Factually website and added a note to the post that said: “Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.”

Speaking to Mumbrella, a spokesperson for the POFMA office said that apart from the disclaimer no further action was going to be taken against the post.

In response to a query from Mumbrella about the disclaimer on the States Times Review post, a Facebook spokesperson said: “As required by Singapore law, Facebook applied a label to the post, which was determined by the Singapore Government to contain false information.

“As it is early days of the law coming into effect, we hope the Singapore Government’s assurances that it will not impact free expression will lead to a measured and transparent approach to implementation.”

This marks a change at the social network. Facebook’s refusal to take down a post from States Times Review after the site was blocked last November was a serious point of contention between the social network and the government.

In a statement at last November, the Ministry of Law had said: “Facebook has declined to take down a post that is clearly false, defamatory and attacks Singapore, using falsehoods. This shows why we need legislation to protect us from deliberate online falsehoods. Facebook cannot be relied upon to filter falsehoods or protect Singapore from a false information campaign.”

Subsequently, the government proposed hefty fines of up to $1 million for social networks that did not comply with its notices. The fake news laws were put in place this May without amendments.

For its part, Facebook has launched its own fact checking service besides enforcing its ad policies on political ads in the run up to elections in Singapore.

The anti-establishment States Times Review has locked horns with the government on multiple occasions, with its founder Alex Tan claiming that he intended to shut the site’s Facebook page down last November and that he had sold the site to a successor.

Subsequent to the POFMA notice, the Australia-based Tan claimed on the Facebook page of States Time Review that he would share his content across multiple social platforms.

Two notices have already been issued under POFMA with the first of these targeting a post by politician Brad Bowyer who subsequently linked to the clarification.


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