The Straits Times says

Building societal resistance to fake news

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill was debated extensively in Parliament before being passed - as it had been outside the House - with its clear merits defended and its possible pitfalls scrutinised vigorously. That is as it should be as this is a law that will influence, shape and protect Singapore society and the values it upholds. The Government made its strong case for the anti-fake news law, defending the importance of its purpose and the necessity of its operative mechanisms. Critics had their say too, focusing, among other things, on concerns about the effects on freedom of expression and scholarly inquiry given the law's penalties. Singaporeans would not expect their political and thought leaders to behave with any less intensity given both the necessity of the law and its tough remit.

Laws necessarily are supply-side measures. They provide a prohibitive environment to keep society safe from wrongdoers. But there is a demand side as well. In this case, it comes in the form of the recipient of news. Still, the reader, listener, online surfer or any other recipient of news and information must be discerning enough to reject what palpably is false and, if in doubt, must reserve judgment on what might or might not be so. It is important that they not act on or spread what could be false news before exercising some responsible judgment.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'Building societal resistance to fake news'. Print Edition | Subscribe