Facebook removes page spoofing students' union, carrying misleading posts

The Nov 17 post on the NUSSU - NUS Students United Facebook page.
The Nov 17 post on the NUSSU - NUS Students United Facebook page.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK

Facebook has taken down a page spoofing a local university group after accounts linked to it failed to meet community guidelines.

The social media giant said yesterday that the page - Nussu-NUS Students United - was removed for "violating authenticity policies".

A spokesman added that fake accounts linked to it had failed to meet community and authenticity guidelines.

The Nussu-NUS Students United page is one of many pages parodying the NUS Students' Union or Nussu.

The page was taken down a day after it emerged that it had misused a quote from Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

In its post last Sunday, the page quoted Mr Shanmugam as having said in Parliament on Oct 7: "If we do not separate religion from politics, then whose religion comes into politics?"

Mr Goh Chour Thong, the minister's press secretary, said the post misused this quote to falsely assert that if People's Action Party member Rachel Ong wants to run for elections, she should "resign ALL executive positions with ROHEI, an organisation with religious leanings".

"The minister did not say that a political candidate running for elections, or an MP, must resign from all executive positions in organisations with religious leanings," said Mr Goh.

"In fact, he said the very opposite, that they can continue to hold such posts, and as he said, these things must be dealt with wisdom and common sense."

He also said the post had taken a quote of the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew out of context to mislead people.

Mr Lee had said in the 1987 National Day Rally: "Churchmen, lay preachers, priests, monks, Muslim theologians, all those who claim divine sanctions of holy insights, take off your clerical robes before you take on anything economic or political. Take it off."

The post misuses Mr Lee's quote to falsely assert that he had meant that religious leaders have no political rights, said Mr Goh.

"Mr Lee was actually saying that religious leaders who wanted to make political statements should not do so in their capacity as religious leaders," he added. "The name, as well as its deliberately misleading posts, shows the site is run by people with no integrity, bent on sowing discord and hatred."

Facebook said its authenticity policy states that it believes "people are more accountable for their statements and actions when they use their authentic identities".

"That's why we require people to connect on Facebook using the name that they go by in everyday life. Our policies are intended to create a safe environment where people can trust and hold one another accountable," it said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 24, 2019, with the headline 'Facebook removes page spoofing students' union, carrying misleading posts'. Print Edition | Subscribe