The Singaporean government has ordered Facebook to block its country’s citizens from accessing the National Times Singapore (NTS) Facebook page. According to the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), the NTS Facebook page was supposedly communicating “at least three false statements of fact.”
S Iswaran, the Minister for Communications and Information, made the office of Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) order Facebook with regards to the disabling of access to the page. Allegedly, the Facebook page failed to comply with the directions provided by the POFMA for a post that was published on May 15th and so the government went direct to Facebook with the order.
The move is the latest implantation of Singapore’s controversial “fake news” law that the government had promised wouldn’t be used for censorship of those critical of the government, and yet – since its introduction – that’s almost exclusively what it has been used for.
Here are two allegedly “misleading and false” statements made by the NTS Facebook page:
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1. “Every criticism has been outlawed by the Singapore government through its new POFMA legislation, where the politicians in power get to decide what is truth.”
2. The Minister for Law had issued a POFMA direction to ban a video.”
The Singaporean government website “Factually” also said that an Australian citizen who currently resides in Australia, known by the name of Tan, made “serious and baseless allegations about Singapore’s judiciary being biased”.
“These have been brought to the attention of the Attorney-General’s Chambers for assessment on whether the allegations are in contempt of court”.
From Friday onwards, the page was deemed as a “Declared Online Location (DOL).” Once a page is called a DOL, it will be mandated by Singaporean laws to put up a notice about the declaration. Furthermore, page visitors will also be warned that the page has a history of posting fallacies and misinformation.
That being said, the NTS Facebook page did not seem to have paid any heed to the Singapore government’s notice, as the page has not published any notice about its DOL designation yet.
“The page has not complied with the declaration’s requirement to publish a notice stating that it has been declared a DOL,” said MCI on Saturday.
It is also worth noting that Tan’s previous pages such as the States Times Review (STR), Singapore States Times (SST), and his personal page were all stamped with a DOL. As a result, all the aforementioned pages were out of access for citizens of Singapore as Facebook willingly began to censor on behalf of the Singapore government.
By the looks of it, even the NTS page may also end up being disabled as well as Facebook would rather censor on behalf of Singapore instead of pulling out of the country – just as it does for the Vietnamese government.