Facebook complied with the new Act in Singapore by correcting a misleading post by an Australian blogger. (Image via TechCrunch)
Facebook flags users' bogus post under a new law in SingaporeObeying a new “fake news” Act, Facebook on Friday gave a correction label to a bogus post by Strait Times Review (STR) page in Singapore. It was the first time for Facebook to flag the post as “containing misleading information”.
The page, run by an Australian resident, Alex Tan Zhi Xiang (33). Alex refused to comply with the Act and “foreign government”, referring to the act as an “unjust law”.
According to the misleading post by Alex on 23 November, the Home and Law Minister, K. Shanmugam, had allegedly ordered an arrest of a whistleblower. Furthermore, the post also revealed an election-rigging scandal.
Last weekend, the Singaporean government immediately denied such news, claiming it as baseless, and said that the news was a “scurrilous allegation” even against the Prime Minister of Singapore himself.
Since Alex failed to comply, an investigation had commenced.
A controversial Act in Singapore, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation (POFMA) bill, was passed into Act in May and run into effect since October 2019. By the power of the law, the Singaporean government has the authority to order online social media platforms to correct every hoax or misleading post that is “against the public interest”.
POFMA condemns people who spread misleading posts using bots or fake accounts to at least five-year to ten-year imprisonment or a heavy fine of SG$1 million. The office in charge of the POFMA Act was instructed by the Home and Law Minister to direct Facebook on the “targeted correction”.
In other words, if Facebook had also failed to comply, it would have been fined that much, and an additional of SG$100,000 for each additional day of non-compliance after conviction. Non-compliance would, indeed, be a clear violation of the Act, unless a “reasonable” excuse is provided.
The international community saw the Act as a limitation for the freedom of speech in Singapore, and they were afraid that the authority would abuse the law to arrest anyone whom they disapproved of. But, the Singaporean government assured that the Act only works on fake accounts, trolls, and bots who spread hoaxes and misleading posts.