Facebook corrects post under Singapore fake news law

Updated December 01, 2019

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Facebook published a correction on a user’s post on Saturday following a demand from Singapore, the first time a tech giant has complied with the city-state’s law against misinformation. — Reuters/File
Facebook published a correction on a user’s post on Saturday following a demand from Singapore, the first time a tech giant has complied with the city-state’s law against misinformation. — Reuters/File

SINGAPORE: Facebook published a correction on a user’s post on Saturday following a demand from Singapore, the first time a tech giant has complied with the city-state’s law against misinformation.

Authorities had ordered the social media giant to correct a post promoting an article on a fringe news site containing “scurrilous accusations” of election rigging, ramping up their use of a controversial law against misinformation.

The law gives ministers powers to tell platforms to put warnings next to posts they deem false, but that activists fear could be used to curb free speech.

A post by Alex Tan — who runs anti-government website the States Times Review — had a correction notice placed below it after a government request, Facebook confirmed.

On Thursday authorities had ordered Tan to put up a correction next to his Nov 23 post on elections. But Tan — who is based overseas — refused, saying he is an Australian citizen and would not comply with requests from a “foreign government”.

But after authorities ordered Facebook to put a correction next to the post, the social media giant said it had complied.

The item now appears with a label below it, stating: “Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.” It also contains a link to the government’s own fact-checking website.

“As required by Singapore law, Facebook applied a label to these posts, which were determined by the Singapore government to contain false information,” said a Facebook spokesperson on Saturday.

The government’s fact-checking website said that Tan’s article, which claims elections are rigged in Singapore to ensure the ruling party stays in power, contained “false statements of fact” and “made scurrilous accusations”.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2019