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Singapore orders Facebook to mark The States Times a fake news site and demonetize the outlet

The outlet says the government is punishing political dissent.
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Singapore is at it again, invoking its fake news, aka Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) legislation to pressure Facebook into making sure the platform acts in accordance.

The target is once again the dissident outlet States Times Review.

After the owner of the Facebook page associated with the website failed to comply with an earlier POFMA order, Singapore’s authorities went to Facebook, telling it to tag the page as a “Declared Online Location” (DOL) with “a history of communicating falsehoods.”

> Read the order here

Facebook is yet to say whether it will comply with the order stemming from this legislation, often criticized as a draconian act with serious potential to infringe on freedom of expression and suppress political opposition in a country where the same party has ruled for over half a century.

In the past, Facebook has complied with POFMA orders.

Meanwhile, Alex Tan – a Singaporean political activist and Australian citizen who operates the States Times Review – has so far ignored a total of three POFMA orders demanding that he “corrects” information on the page – and, now, apparently under a three-strikes policy, the page will be declared a DOL.

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Communication and Information, this means the page will not be able to generate any profit.

MORE: Singapore minister says it’s a coincidence fake news law has only been used to silence political dissent 

Using the language that is common in many other countries these days, the ministry goes on to advise citizens who might be visiting the page to “exercise caution and do additional fact-checking.”

The latest attempt to “correct” the site’s Facebook page has to do with articles dealing with the coronavirus outbreak and the way the authorities in Singapore have handled it.

According to these authorities, the site has published falsehoods and will now pay for that with demonetization that Facebook should carry out on the government’s behalf.

The States Times Review has rejected the accusations against it, calling POFMA a tool used to go after political dissidents like Tan, and describing the country’s authorities as “a dictatorship.”

“As a political exile, the editor of States Times Review will never comply with any of the POFMA orders,” a statement from the site reads.

It also remarked that POFMA is only legitimate in Singapore, as other countries don’t recognize its legitimacy.

But if Facebook does – the page will continue its existence on the giant platform with a DOL label slapped on it.

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