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Facebook complies with Singapore’s controversial ‘fake news’ law

The city-state claims a post accusing it of election rigging is false–so Facebook dubbed it as such.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Dec 1, 2019   Updated on May 19, 2021, 9:37 pm CDT

Facebook has complied with a fake news law passed in Singapore last month by placing a correction notice on a post critical of the city-state’s government.

The post, which accuses Singapore of arresting a supposed whistleblower and election rigging, was made by an Australian citizen and State Times Review blog writer Alex Tan.

Singapore initially contacted Tan about the Nov. 23 post and demanded that he issue a correction. When Tan refused, the Singapore government reached out to Facebook on Friday and ordered the company to comply with the new misinformation law.

In a statement to Reuters, Facebook confirmed that it has since placed the correction notice on Tan’s post.

“As required by Singapore law, Facebook applied a label to these posts, which were determined by the Singapore government to contain false information,” Facebook said. “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.”

The notice, now placed at the bottom of Tan’s post, is designed only to be visible to Facebook users in Singapore.

Users who visit the post will now see the following message: “Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.”

Singapore has called Tan’s allegations “false” and “scurrilous” and has even opened an investigation into the blogger, despite Facebook’s compliance.

Not being a citizen of Singapore, Tan is unlikely to face any punishment for his post. Those found in violation of Singapore’s law can face up to 10 years in prison or receive fines as high as S$1 million ($733,192).

Critics have argued that Singapore’s new law could pose a serious danger to internet freedom in Southeast Asia.


H/T Reuters

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*First Published: Dec 1, 2019, 12:38 pm CST