Singapore Looks to Get Tough on Fake News

Technology

Updated 4/3/19 at 5:48 p.m.

Singapore may be the first nation to hold social media platforms responsible for allowing fake news to go unchecked on their platforms with a new law being proposed. The law, submitted in its parliament yesterday, would require social media platforms to carry disclaimers on postings the governments deems to be fake.

It would also require them to remove comments the government considers to be against the “public interest.”

Opponents of the proposal say the law is anti-free-speech. That claim was rejected by Singaporean officials.

“This legislation deals with false statements of facts. It doesn’t deal with opinions, it doesn’t deal with viewpoints,” Singapore’s Law Minister K. Shanmugam told Reuters. “You can have whatever viewpoints however reasonable or unreasonable,” he added.

In a statement emailed to ITN, Facebook said it will continue a cooperative tack with the Singaporean government but did express concern about the wide authority such a law would allow.

“We support regulation that strikes the right balance between reducing harm while protecting people’s rights to meaningful speech…,” said Simon Milner, Vice President, Public Policy, Asia-Pacific at Facebook. “We are, however, concerned with aspects of the law that grant broad powers to the Singapore executive branch to compel us to remove content they deem to be false and proactively push a government notification to users.”

“We will continue to work with the government, industry and our own community on this important issue,” Milner added.

Shanmugam said he would like to see online platforms issue warnings or “corrections” underneath posts deemed to be false without having them removed.

“That way, in a sense, people can read whatever they want and make up their minds. That is our preference,” he told reporters.

Photo by David Russo via Flickr

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