Saheli Roy Choudhury
Security experts have warned that disinformation campaigns about COVID-19 are on the rise over the internet, as people’s fears and ignorance are being exploited.
Singapore is not immune. The government has been fighting fake news: from misinformation about its leaders contracting the
“We are not the only place where fake information is circulating, but I would say there is far less here,” K. Shanmugam, who is also Singapore’s law minister, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday.
“You know the Singapore approach: We put out the clarification, we require the platform to carry what the true facts are and we saw a substantial reduction in the amount of fake news circulating,” Shanmugam said, adding that the presence of fake news is part and parcel of modern life. “You just have to accept it.”
Singapore passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill in October last year, which dictates websites have to run government “correction notices” alongside content it deems false. Under the law, the government will also be able to issue so-called “take down” orders that require the removal of
Everett Rosenfeld | CNBC
For its part, Singapore’s health ministry puts out a daily report on its website detailing newly reported cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the
Singapore’s fake news lawShanmugam explained that when the fake news bill was being debated, tackling misinformation during a public health crisis was one of the scenarios being considered. He said in current times, fake news has been “industrialized” to sow confusion among the public and undermine society, through using modern means of communication. But the answer to countering fake news is not censorship, rather it’s to give more information, according to the law minister.
Singapore’s minister for home affairs
“It’s on that platform, but the person who put it out has got to carry a correction to say that this is being considered to be false, and for the true facts go to such and such a place,” he said. “Our point is, for those who believe in free speech, well this is more speech. You read the fake stuff, you read the true stuff, or what we say is the true stuff, and you make up your mind.”
Facebook had said back then that orders like those were “disproportionate” and contradicted
Shanmugam said Facebook had been “behind the curve on fake news and has had to apologize a number of times.”
When contacted by CNBC about the minister’s remarks, a representative from the social media company declined to comment.