According to the Singaporean Government, a site States Times Review has recently broken the newly launched “Fake news” law and constantly expressing deceptive elements.
Facebook also expressed its viewpoint by saying that Facebook is bound to comply with the request to block Singaporean access. But, Facebook also said that the order was quite concerning for the company.
Facebook also raised concern on freedom of speech by saying that such derivatives can cause harm to the freedom of expression.
It is to mention that a POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation) bill was passed earlier in October.
The Singaporean government also stated on the matter that there have to be strict laws and policies against fake news which can trigger religious or racial discord. There must be powerful and swift control to put a full stop on such a viral spread of false news.
According to one of Facebook spokesmen, ‘’We believe orders like this are disproportionate and contradict the government’s claim that POFMA would not be used as a censorship tool.”
Moreover, he also said that they are concerned about the harm that has been caused to freedom of speech in Singapore, by this law.
According to the authorities, the whole event occurred when States Times Review, posted a Facebook post with a title that says “Singapore had run out of masks”. This post was written during the Coronavirus crisis that made Singaporean to rush over Face masks purchase.
Singapore reported plenty of virus cases, always said that they have sufficient resources to manage and fight with the pandemic.
Singapore issued an order and demanded the website to post a notice stating that the previous post was containing false information. However, this order was entirely ignored by the STR.
The Ministry of Communications and Information also directed STR to bring out a notice mentioning that STR is declared online location. It means that when a visitor will open its pages, he will be warned with a notice saying that this site has a history of communicating falsehoods.
STR didn’t listen and never carried out any such notice. Authorities revealed that instead of bringing the notice, STR altered URL vanity. It ultimately leads the ministry to request Facebook to block access to the site for Singapore users. Bear in mind that users can connect to Singapore VPN to access geo-blocked websites and content from around the world.
Minister for Communications and Information further expressed on the issue by saying that there was a need to take quick action against the false news because of the fear, panic and anxiousness caused in the people during Coronavirus outbreak.
It is also mentioned that STR got banned three times because of posting false news. It got banned most recently because of its article on how Singapore is handling the Coronavirus outbreak. According to the Singapore Government, the entire news was fake.
Concerns are gushing around claiming that the false news law will be used to hide government criticism, also, it will take away the freedom of speech from different active groups and opposition politicians.
The Singapore Government has declined all the concerns floating around by saying that this law will only work to halt falsehood. However, freedom of speech and legit criticism will not be harmed by this law.
Initially, the law raised concerned for stifling freedom of speech of the opposition politicians, however, the government has been stopped it for spreading false information on the Coronavirus outbreak from the last few weeks.
We hope that things will be sorted, and false claims will stop during the hard times of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Author Bio: Jeff is an enthusiastic privacy advocate with considerable experience in writing on Singapore VPN services, international cybersecurity software, and privacy tools.