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Singapore orders Facebook and Twitter to delete references to a “Singapore variant”

A censorship order.
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Singapore’s Ministry of Health has ordered Facebook and Twitter, as well as SPH Magazines, to correct what it claims to be online falsehoods suggesting that a new coronavirus mutation originated in the country. The supposed “falsehoods” seem to have been fueled by an Indian politician.

“There is no new ‘Singapore’ variant of COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement. “Neither is there evidence of any COVID-19 variant that is ‘extremely dangerous for kids’. The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated from India.”

The correction orders were issued under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act. The platforms that received the orders will have to include a correction notice on all posts to their users in Singapore.

The correction orders came shortly after a clash between the Singapore government and India, after New Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for the suspension of flights to the Southeast Asian nation, claiming there was a new variant of COVID-19 originating from Singapore.

In an attempt to not damage relations with Singapore, External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar insisted that Kejriwal “does not speak for India,” adding that “irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships.”

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