Coronavirus: Government debunks fake news on closure of Woodlands MRT station

Two Facebook posts, put up by different accounts, falsely claimed the Woodlands MRT station was closed for disinfection.
Two Facebook posts, put up by different accounts, falsely claimed the Woodlands MRT station was closed for disinfection.PHOTO: GOV.SG

Woodlands MRT station was not closed because of a suspected case of the Wuhan virus, as claimed by several Facebook posts, said the Government yesterday as it invoked Singapore's law against fake news for the second time in relation to the virus.

As misinformation swirled online, two posts circulating on Facebook told people to avoid Woodlands MRT station, claiming a suspected case was discovered there.

The posts, put up by different accounts, also falsely claimed the station was closed for disinfection.

Debunking the fake news, the Transport Ministry said in a Facebook post yesterday: "We would like to clarify that this is not true. Woodlands MRT was not closed on 28 Jan 2020; it was fully operational."

The ministry also asked people not to speculate and spread unfounded rumours, and to get the latest updates on the Wuhan virus situation through government channels such as www.moh.gov.sg or the Gov.sg WhatsApp group at https://go.gov.sg/whatsapp

The latest use of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) against misinformation involving the Wuhan virus follows a warning on Monday by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.

He had said at a press conference that swift action would be taken against such falsehoods as they could cause panic among Singaporeans.

Mr Iswaran, who is part of a multi-ministry task force set up to tackle the Wuhan virus, also said his ministry was working with the Health Ministry to keep Singaporeans informed of developments.

Yesterday, the authorities asked Facebook to carry a correction notice alongside the two posts on Woodlands MRT station, directing people to the facts at www.gov.sg/article/factually-clarifications-on-falsehoods-on-woodlands-m...

 
 
 

As of 8pm yesterday, the notices were not up.

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan had initiated the targeted correction direction under Pofma, the second time the law has been used in relation to the virus.

In the first instance, SPH Magazines was asked to correct an online post on the HardwareZone forum that falsely claimed a man in Singapore had died from the Wuhan virus infection. The company had earlier taken down the thread, in line with its community guidelines, and also complied with the order.

In recent days, several other posts alleging unverified information have also prompted clarifications from the authorities. One fake message on HardwareZone claimed Singapore had repatriated more than 100 Wuhan tourists to China. The Pofma Office urged people to report any suspected falsehoods to info@pofmaoffice.gov.sg

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2020, with the headline 'Govt debunks fake news on closure of MRT station'. Print Edition | Subscribe