Singapore has ordered news sites and politicians to edit Facebook posts containing “false statements of fact”, following the passing of a controversial law.
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), also referred to as the fake news law, allows the government to order social media sites to remove content if they are deemed to be “against the public interest”, however some claim it amounts to online censorship.
Opposition party member Brad Bowyer updated a post that questioned the country’s ruling party after he received a “correction direction”.
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The correction provided a link to a government site outlining perceived falsehoods with his post. It stated: “This post contains false statements of fact.”
The politician said he had “no problem” following the request but said he did not agree with the government’s position and did not believe he had made any false statements.
“The law is the law after all and without that we descend into chaos or worse,” he wrote in a subsequent Facebook post explaining his decision.
A second correction notice was sent to fringe news site States Times Review for allegedly spreading “outright fabrications” about People’s Action Party (PAP) member Rachel Ong.
State Times Review editor Alex Tan refused to take down or edit any article, claiming the Singapore government did not have the authority to enforce this as the publication is based in Australia.
“We have not received any request from the Australian Federal Police or the authorities to take down any article,” he wrote in a post to the publication’s Facebook page.
“States Times review and its editor, who is now a citizen of Australia, will not comply with any order from a foreign government like North Korea or Singapore.”
The news site also thanked the Singapore government for “bringing more traffic” to the publication through its attempt to censor it.
It also offered instructions on how to access the States Times Review for people living in Singapore, where the website is blocked. To circumvent online restrictions Mr Tan also pledged to continue posting articles on social media.
He wrote: “As my commitment to counter propaganda material in Singapore state media, online content is reposted on the Facebook page.”