Facebook complies with order to publish correction notice

Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, the States Times Review was required to carry a correction notice on its Facebook post, but its editor Alex Tan Zhi Xiang refused to comply with the correction direction.
Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, the States Times Review was required to carry a correction notice on its Facebook post, but its editor Alex Tan Zhi Xiang refused to comply with the correction direction.
Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, the States Times Review was required to carry a correction notice on its Facebook post, but its editor Alex Tan Zhi Xiang refused to comply with the correction direction.
Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, the States Times Review was required to carry a correction notice on its Facebook post, but its editor Alex Tan Zhi Xiang refused to comply with the correction direction.

This is first time social network has done so here; Pofma Office says other tech firms also agree to comply with law

Facebook has complied with a directive under Singapore's new fake news law to publish a correction notice on a post which the Government says contains false information.

Yesterday, Facebook put up a notice at the bottom of a post in the States Times Review page.

It read: "Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore Government says this post has false information."

A spokesman for the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office told The Sunday Times yesterday that Facebook and other tech companies have confirmed that they would comply with requirements under the law.

"Where there are technical difficulties, they will discuss with the Pofma Office," he added.

The Sunday Times understands that this is the first correction notice that Facebook has published on its platform in Singapore.

The States Times Review website, which the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) says spreads "outright fabrications", is blocked in Singapore.

On Nov 23, the website posted on its Facebook page remarks concerning an earlier post on the Nussu-NUS Students United page, which parodies the National University of Singapore Students' Union, or Nussu.

The spoof page questioned the suitability of PAP member Rachel Ong as an election candidate, citing her religious affiliation.

 
 
 
 

In doing so, it misquoted Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam and gave a wrong impression of what he said in Parliament about religion and politics.

Facebook later took down this page for violating authenticity policies.

The States Times Review's Facebook post claimed that one person involved in the matter was arrested and another was being investigated by the police.

The MHA said that the claims were false and baseless.

No one has been arrested or charged in relation to the spoof student group's post, the ministry said.

Under Pofma, the States Times Review was required to carry a correction notice on its Facebook post stating that its article contains falsehoods.

Mr Alex Tan Zhi Xiang, 32, the editor of States Times Review who is based in Australia, had refused to comply with the correction direction by the Pofma Office.

Mr Shanmugam instructed the Pofma Office last Friday to issue a targeted correction direction to Facebook.

The American tech company complied yesterday.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesman said that the company applied a label to the post as required by Singapore law.

"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," said Facebook.

The fake news law came into effect on Oct 2, and had been passed in May after a two-day debate.

Mr Tan's case was the second time the law was invoked, following the case involving Progress Singapore Party member Brad Bowyer.

Last Monday, Mr Bowyer was directed by the Pofma Office to put up a correction over his Facebook post on Temasek, GIC and other government-linked companies.

Hours later, Mr Bower put up a separate post with comments and clarifications about his original post.

In response to this, the Pofma Office said that the purpose of the correction notice is to alert readers to falsehoods, set out facts and allow them to draw their own conclusions.

"Singaporeans are free to read Mr Bowyer's original post, the corrections that have been issued, and subsequent comments by Mr Bowyer, before deciding for themselves what is the truth," the office added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 01, 2019, with the headline 'Facebook complies with order to publish correction notice'. Print Edition | Subscribe