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Author Topic: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)  (Read 25334 times)

Offline greentara

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2019, 11:20:08 AM »
States Times Review told to correct Facebook post under fake news law, refuses to comply
Nov 28, 2019 | Prisca Ang

SINGAPORE - The person who runs the Facebook page of  website States Times Review was directed on Thursday (Nov 28) under the Republic's fake news law to correct false statements in a post on the page.

However, he has said that the site will not comply with the order.

States Times Review is blocked in Singapore and has content that, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spread "outright fabrications".

This is the second time the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) has been invoked, following its first use on Monday in relation to a separate Facebook post by opposition party member Brad Bowyer.

The Pofma Office said on Thursday that it was instructed by Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam to issue a correction direction to Mr Alex Tan Zhi Xiang regarding a post on the States Times Review Facebook page on Nov 23.

The post was about People's Action Party (PAP) member Rachel Ong and a Nussu-NUS Students United Facebook post.

MHA said in a statement that the States Times Review Facebook page was required to carry a correction notice stating that its article contains falsehoods.

The Nussu-NUS Students United Facebook page, which parodies the National University of Singapore Students' Union or Nussu, was accused earlier this month of misquoting Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, in a post it made.

The States Times Review Facebook post had cited a Nussu-NUS Students United post on Ms Ong's alleged religious affiliations and said that one person involved in the matter was arrested and another was being investigated by the police.

The MHA said these claims are false and baseless.

Mr Alex Tan, who runs States Times Review, is a 32-year-old Singaporean, who is not in Singapore. He is the editor of various websites including Temasek Review News and Singapore Herald. PHOTO: ST FILE

No one has been arrested or charged in relation to the spoof student group's post, the ministry said.

Referring to Facebook's action, the ministry added: "The Government did not request that Facebook take down the Nussu-NUS Students United post or disable the page. It was Facebook which removed the page on its own accord."

The ministry said the States Times Review article also made various other "scurrilous" allegations, including about Singapore's elections process.

Calling the allegations "absurd", it said: "Singapore's electoral system enjoys high public trust. Elections are held regularly and contested. The electoral system and its procedures are clearly spelt out in law, and apply to all political participants, regardless of affiliation."

The MHA added that during elections, there are equal opportunities for all political participants to observe and monitor the election process.

The ministry said that Mr Tan, who runs States Times Review, is a 32-year-old Singaporean, who is not in Singapore.

He is also the editor of various websites including Temasek Review News and Singapore Herald.

These websites have breached the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA's) Internet Code of Practice on the grounds of public interest and have been blocked by IMDA, said the ministry.

"This is not the first time that these websites, as well as States Times Review, have perpetuated outright fabrications, such as misrepresenting Singapore's position in foreign relations with other countries and casting aspersions on the integrity of public institutions," said the MHA.

At about 1.20pm on Thursday, the States Times Review Facebook page said in an update in the Nov 23 post that "the Singapore government claimed that no arrest was made" and that this was "contrary to the tip off we received".

Mr Tan also said earlier on the page at about 11.30am that he and States Times Review "will not comply with any order from a foreign government".

A Nov 13 Facebook post he made "contains clearly false statements of fact, and undermines public trust in the Government", the Ministry of Finance said.

In Monday’s case, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had instructed the Pofma Office to issue a correction direction, which required Mr Bowyer to put up in full a correction note along with his post, that still remained online. Mr Bowyer made the correction on the same day.

Pofma, which came into force on Oct 2, targets individuals and technology companies, giving ministers the power to order removal or corrections of online falsehoods, as well as the blocking of accounts or sites that spread untruths.

Those who disregard these orders or intentionally spread falsehoods against the public interest can be criminally sanctioned. Technology firms can be fined up to $1 million, and individuals jailed up to 10 years.

To assure observers concerned that the law could be used unjustly for political ends, government ministers have said that opinions, criticisms, satire or parody will not come under the law, with a falsehood strictly referring to a statement of fact that is either false or misleading.

A person who disagrees with a minister’s decision can have his appeal heard in the High Court as early as nine days after initiating a challenge to the minister, although the minister can decide whether to allow the appeal against his decision to reach the court.

The appeal will cost the defendant $200, with no charge for the first three days of court hearing.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fake-news-law-invoked-against-facebook-page-of-alternative-news-site-states-times-review





Misleading and false statements were made by the States Times Review

Corrections and clarifications regarding falsehoods posted by the States Times Review

1. The Facebook post by the States Times Review ("STR"), published on 23 Nov 2019, contains false statements of fact.

Falsehoods

No one has been arrested or charged arising from the NSU post

2. The STR refers to a Facebook post by "NUSSU – NUS Students United" ("NSU") which had misleadingly quoted Minister K Shanmugam as saying that a political candidate running for elections must resign from all executive positions that they hold in organisations with religious leanings.

3. The STR falsely asserts that:
  •     "The whistleblower who exposed the PAP candidate’s Christian affiliations has since been arrested, and fac[es] Police charges for 'fabricating fake news'"; and
  •     "The [NSU] page has since been taken down and the owner of the page is now under Police investigation after Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam ordered the arrest."

4. These claims are false and baseless. No one has been arrested or charged arising from the NSU post. The Government did not request that Facebook take down the NSU post or disable the page. It was Facebook which removed the page on its own accord. As reported by the Singapore media on 23 Nov 2019, Facebook did so as the NSU page violated authenticity policies, and the fake accounts linked to the page failed Facebook's community and authenticity guidelines.

Additional Clarifications

5. The STR also has made scurrilous accusations against the Elections Department, the Prime Minister, and the election process in Singapore.

6. Parliamentary elections in Singapore are governed by the Parliamentary Elections Act. The law provides for a clear and transparent framework which ensures the integrity of the elections. By way of example, there are equal opportunities for all political participants, regardless of party affiliation, to observe and monitor the election process. After the close of polls, the presiding officer is required to secure the ballot boxes and the Candidates or their agents may affix their own seals. Before vote counting even begins, Candidates and their counting agents are allowed to witness the opening of each ballot box and the taking out of the papers therein. Candidates and their counting agents can also be present during the counting of the votes and raise objections on the validity of any vote.

Source: https://www.gov.sg/factually/content/corrections-on-falsehoods-posted-by-states-times-review

Offline greentara

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2020, 02:12:03 PM »
Singapore invokes online falsehoods law against Malaysian rights group's 'preposterous' claims on execution methods
22 Jan 2020

SINGAPORE: Claims by a Malaysian human rights group that Singapore carries out "brutal" executions are "untrue, baseless and preposterous", said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which on Wednesday (Jan 22) invoked the online falsehoods law against Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) and three parties for spreading the allegations.

Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has instructed the POFMA (Protection From Online Falsehoods And Manipulation Act) Office to issue a correction direction against LFL’s statement on its website, Kirsten Han’s Facebook post, an online article by The Online Citizen and a Facebook post by Yahoo Singapore, said MHA in a press release.

They will be required to carry a correction notice, stating that their posts or articles contain falsehoods.

"LFL has been publishing various falsehoods to seek attention in hopes of getting Malaysian prisoners, who have been convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in Singapore, off the death penalty," said MHA.

"Regrettably, there are some individuals and groups in Singapore who are spreading LFL’s latest allegations," it added.

"ENTIRELY UNFOUNDED"

On Jan 16, LFL released a press statement alleging brutal execution methods at Singapore's Changi Prison.

In its statement, it alleged that prison officers were instructed to "pull the rope around the neck of the prisoner towards him" and "kick the back of the neck of the prisoner with great force in order to break it", whenever the rope broke during a hanging.

"LFL also made spurious allegations that prison officers were 'given special training to carry out the brutal execution method', that the Singapore Government approved of these 'unlawful methods', and suggested that specific measures were adopted to cover up these methods," said MHA.

"These allegations are entirely unfounded," it added.

ROPE HAS NEVER BROKEN BEFORE: MHA

The ministry said that no effort is spared to ensure that all executions in Singapore - which are done in the presence of the prison superintendent and a doctor - are carried out in strict compliance with the law.

Under the law, a coroner is also required to conduct an inquiry within 24 hours of an execution to ensure it was carried out duly and properly, said MHA.

"For the record, the rope used for judicial executions has never broken before, and prison officers certainly do not receive any 'special training to carry out the brutal execution method' as alleged," said MHA.

"Any acts such as those described in the LFL statement would have been thoroughly investigated and dealt with."

KIRSTEN HAN, THE ONLINE CITIZEN RESPOND

Ms Han confirmed that she received a correction direction from the POFMA Office on Wednesday morning and has until 8am on Thursday to comply with the direction.

"I'll be using the rest of the time given under the correction direction to decide how I should proceed," she said in a Facebook post.

The freelance journalist added that she had previously asked the Singapore Prison Service for their response to LFL's statement and other questions about executions in prison and their standard protocol, but received no reply.

The Online Citizen (TOC) said on Wednesday morning it has filed an application to Mr Shanmugam to cancel the correction direction.

"The minister has three days to consider the application before TOC can take the matter to the court," it wrote in a Facebook post.

Since POFMA came into force in October, correction directions have also been issued to Progress Singapore Party member Brad Bowyer, the States Times Review, the Singapore Democratic Party, and Singaporean lawyer Lim Tean.

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/pofma-malaysia-lawyers-for-liberty-drugs-execution-falsehoods-12299384

Reference: https://www.gov.sg/article/factually-clarifications-on-falsehoods-posted-by-lawyers-for-liberty
« Last Edit: January 27, 2020, 05:26:32 PM by greentara »

Offline greentara

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2020, 05:35:02 PM »


There was a false statement contained in a HardwareZone Forum post on the Wuhan coronavirus infection.

Falsehoods

At 5.50pm on 26 Jan 2020, a HardwareZone Forum post claimed that a 66 year old man died in Singapore from a newly identified virus that caused him to develop severe pneumonia.

As of 11pm on 26 Jan 2020, there have been no deaths among confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus infection.

Additional Clarifications

We advise members of the public to not speculate and/or spread unfounded rumors. Please visit www.moh.gov.sg for updates on the Wuhan coronavirus situation.

Source: https://www.gov.sg/article/factually-clarifications-on-falsehoods-posted-on-hardware-zone-forum-post

Reference 1 (defunct): https://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/eat-drink-man-woman-16/%5Bbreaking%5Dsingapore-reports-first-death-new-virus-6191328.html

Reference 2: "[Correction Notice] As of 26 Jan at 11pm: No deaths in Singapore from Wuhan Coronavirus": https://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/announcement.php?f=16&a=1728

Reference 3: https://www.moh.gov.sg/2019-ncov-wuhan
« Last Edit: January 27, 2020, 06:08:14 PM by greentara »

Offline greentara

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2020, 03:37:44 PM »
Fact-checking hoaxes and conspiracies about the coronavirus
By Daniel Funke on Friday, January 24th, 2020 at 5:45 p.m.

"Falsehoods about a new strain of the coronavirus spreading from China vary widely, from Facebook posts that take a patent out of context to conspiracy theories about Bill Gates. Many of the claims were shared by Facebook and Twitter users, and others were propagated on the fringe internet and notorious conspiracy websites. One falsehood was even shared by a 2020 U.S. Senate candidate.

The virus, known as the Wuhan coronavirus because of the central China city where it originated, has infected more than 900 people worldwide, and China has restricted travel within the country amid a rising death toll.

Misinformation about the coronavirus has particularly taken root in Facebook groups for anti-vaccine advocates and believers in QAnon, a broad, right-wing conspiracy theory.

Many of the posts about coronavirus were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

PolitiFact sifted through dozens of social media posts and fact-checked a few of the most popular inaccurate claims about the Wuhan coronavirus. If you see suspect claims on your social media feeds, you can send them to [email protected] and we’ll check it out.
:
:
:"


Source: https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/article/2020/jan/24/fact-checking-hoaxes-and-conspiracies-about-corona/

Cache: https://archive.md/ya2rF

Offline ainat

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2020, 03:54:27 PM »


Pofma office orders opposition politician Lim Tean, 2 Facebook users to correct posts alleging PA event led to S'pore's largest coronavirus cluster
Clement Yong | 18 March 2020

SINGAPORE - Three Facebook users, including opposition politician and lawyer Lim Tean, have been issued correction directions by the Government for alleging that the People's Association (PA) and residents' committees (RCs) were involved in the organisation of an event that has emerged as Singapore's largest coronavirus cluster.

The Protection from Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office said in a statement on Wednesday (March 18) that the deputy chairman of PA, Mr Chan Chun Sing, has initiated the latest correction order on posts about the Feb 15 Safra Jurong Chinese New Year function that has so far surfaced 47 cases of confirmed Covid-19 infections here.

All three - Mr Lim, "Henryace Ace" and Mr Sebastian Ying - posted or shared links saying the PA and RCs were responsible for the infections linked to the event.

Mr Lim, who is the People's Voice party chief, did so on both his pages Lim Tean and Tean Lim.

According to the government fact-checking website Factually, the posts alleging PA or RC involvement in the organisation of the Feb 15 event are "entirely false".

It said: "PA and the RCs were not involved in the organisation of the dinner event... and were not in a position to cancel it. PA and the RCs also did not fund or publicise the dinner event.

"The event was a private dinner function organised by a singing instructor for members of her singing groups."

This is the third time Mr Lim has been issued with an order from the Pofma office, with the first time being in December last year for a post which the Government said had implied that it was spending more on foreign students than Singaporean students.

He was also instructed to put up a correction note in January after sharing an article by website AB-TC City News that claimed five Singaporeans had contracted the coronavirus without going to China.

All three will need to put up a correction alongside the offending Facebook posts.

This is not the first time the law has been invoked to correct statements made about the Covid-19 outbreak.

In January, two Facebook accounts were issued correction directions after they made posts claiming that Woodlands MRT station was closed for disinfection because of a suspected Covid-19 case.

SPH Magazines was also asked in January to correct an online post in the HardwareZone forum that falsely claimed a man in Singapore had died from the virus infection, while The States Times Review Facebook page in the same month was instructed to correct a post that claimed Singapore had run out of face masks.

Pofma, which gives ministers the power to act against a piece of falsehood on the Internet when it is in the public interest to do so, was passed by Parliament in May 2019 and took effect on Oct 2.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/pofma-office-orders-lim-tean-2-facebook-users-to-correct-posts-alleging-pa-event-led-to

Reference: https://www.facebook.com/henryace99
Cache: http://archive.fo/kO4XB

Offline ainat

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2020, 10:43:09 PM »
Clarification on falsehood posted by TTR on food delivery rider
Published on 17 Apr 2020

A false statement was made on The Temasek Review’s ("TTR") Facebook page on 15 April 2020, alleging that a GrabFood delivery rider was fined $300 by Police officers for wearing a cloth as a mask or for illegal parking.

Falsehood

TTR said in their post: "Grabfood delivery rider issued summon by SPF officers of fine of $300 for alleged wearing cloth as mask or illegal parking?"

This is false. The police officers were in fact rendering assistance to the delivery rider who had approached them for help. The GrabFood delivery rider had thought that items were stolen from his motorcycle and approached the Police officers for help. The Police officer in the photo of TTR’s Facebook post was actually taking a statement from the delivery rider. No summons was issued to the delivery rider, and the event had nothing to do with the circuit breaker measures or illegal parking.

Such allegations are highly irresponsible and hurt public confidence and trust in the Police. It also undermines our officers, who are at the frontlines trying to keep Singaporeans safe and secure during this challenging period. Let us stand united, instead of sowing division and discord.

Additional Clarifications

Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures)(Control Order) Regulations 2020, masks made of cloth and textile are permitted. We advise members of the public not to speculate and/or spread unfounded rumours. Please visit www.moh.gov.sg for updates on the COVID-19 situation.

Source: https://www.gov.sg/article/factually-clarification-on-falsehood-posted-by-ttr-on-food-delivery-rider

Reference (Temasek Review Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10157812350575783&id=190806675782&__tn__=-R

Cache: http://archive.fo/lpWRd



In a Facebook post on 15 April 2020, The Temasek Review (TTR) showed a picture of a GrabFood deliveryman and a Police officer, and suggested that the man was ‘issued summon by SPF officers of fine of $300 for alleged wearing cloth as mask or illegal parking’.

It is irresponsible of TTR to assume that the Police officer was taking enforcement action against the deliveryman, simply based on the picture.

What actually happened was that the GrabFood deliveryman had approached the Police officer for assistance, thinking that items were stolen from his motorcycle, and the officer was taking a statement from him.

Such allegations are highly irresponsible and hurt public confidence and trust in the Police. It also undermines our officers, who are at the frontlines trying to keep Singaporeans safe and secure during this challenging period. We ought to stand united, instead of sowing division and discord.

Source (SPF Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/singaporepoliceforce/posts/10159709331489408

Cache: http://archive.fo/AjV5h

Offline ainat

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2020, 10:35:52 PM »
Corrections Regarding Falsehoods on the Annual Salary of Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd's Executive Director and CEO Ms Ho Ching and Additional Clarifications
False statements made on Facebook, HardwareZone Forum and The Online Citizen

9 Apr 2020

There were false statements of fact contained in a number of social media posts on Facebook and HardwareZone Forum, as well as an article on The Online Citizen website (collectively, the “Authors”) concerning the annual salary of Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited’s Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (“Temasek CEO”).

Falsehoods

The Authors made various claims that the annual salary of Temasek CEO Ms Ho Ching is “NT$ 2.1 billion”, “about 100 million SGD” or “S$99 million a year”.

All of the above claims are false. Please refer to https://www.temasek.com.sg/en/news-and-views/news-room/statements/2020/temasek-compensation-framework

Additional Clarifications

The Government does not set the remuneration of staff in Temasek; this is the responsibility of its Board and management. The Government holds the Board responsible for the long-term performance of its investments, net of expenses.

In the case of Temasek, its Board Committee, the Leadership Development and Compensation Committee (“LDCC”), is responsible for the establishment of guidelines and policies on performance measurement and compensation plans. In addition, remuneration of the Executive Directors of Temasek Holdings is approved by LDCC and endorsed by its Board.

Temasek’s remuneration framework balances reward for short-term performance and long-term value creation. This has been disclosed in Temasek’s Review since 2008. Temasek’s compensation is benchmarked to the industry and the compensation framework comprises a base salary, as well as short-term, medium-term and long-term incentives. Part of the bonuses are deferred and subject to clawback should Temasek’s returns be negative. Temasek has also publicly stated that Ms Ho Ching’s annual compensation is neither the highest within Temasek, nor is she amongst the top five highest paid executives in Temasek.

For more information on Temasek’s remuneration framework, please refer to https://www.temasekreview.com.sg/institution/instilling-ownership.html

Source: https://www.gov.sg/article/factually-corrections-on-falsehoods-on-annual-salary-of-temasek-holdings-ceo-ho-ching

Reference 1 (TOC): Taiwan news reports that Ho Ching makes S$99 million a year as Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings
https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2020/04/15/taiwan-news-reports-that-ho-ching-makes-s99-million-a-year-as-executive-director-and-ceo-of-temasek-holdings/
Cache 1: http://archive.fo/n6GBv

Reference 2 (Lim Tean FB): https://www.facebook.com/PeoplesVoiceSingapore/posts/2535120706756120?__tn__=-R
Cache 2: http://archive.fo/GrnV0

Reference 3 (Hardwarezone Forum): https://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/eat-drink-man-woman-16/%5Bfake-news%5D-taiwan-talk-show-expose-ho-ching-salary-nt%24-2-1-billion-6258383.html
Cache 3: http://archive.fo/5aw8i

Offline ainat

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2020, 05:57:24 PM »
Parliament: About 40 instances of Covid-19 fake news debunked since start of 2020, says S. Iswaran
Mr Iswaran stressed that the Government will not hesitate to use the full force of the law against those who deliberately or maliciously spread falsehoods.
4 May 2020 | Fabian Koh

SINGAPORE - About 40 instances of speculation, rumours, scams and outright falsehoods about the coronavirus outbreak have been debunked by government agencies since January, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran on Monday (May 4).

They have spared no effort to swiftly put out the facts to dispel confusion and calm anxieties fomented by such falsehoods, he said in Parliament in his reply to Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson).

"The clarifications have been conveyed through media, on government websites, social media and the Gov.sg channel on WhatsApp and Telegram," he added.

The primary focus is to ensure that Singaporeans get accurate information in a timely manner, the minister said.

"We have also used the powers under Pofma - the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act - to require purveyors of falsehoods to place factual corrections alongside false claims.

"These actions have been against Singaporeans, here or abroad, as well as some foreign parties and websites," he added.

Mr Iswaran also said some of the actions taken in the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis have been a restraining force as it further curbs people from sharing or purveying false information.

While such misinformation still pops up from time to time, he said the Government is well equipped to deal with it.

But the Government is "not going out on the basis of trying to identify who are the purveyors on an ex ante basis", he added.

"What we do is when the false information is brought to our attention, then we take quick action."

The actions range from clarifications and correction orders under Pofma to more serious ones under Pofma, the Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Penal Code.

"Depending on the circumstances of each case and the outcomes of investigation, the Public Prosecutor will decide if more serious action needs to be taken," he said.

Mr Iswaran stressed that the Government will not hesitate to use the full force of the law against those who deliberately or maliciously spread falsehoods.

"Purveyors of falsehoods must be held accountable, but we all have a role to play in stemming the spread of false information. Especially as some may have carelessly shared misinformation.

"It is of utmost importance, especially at a time of crisis like this, that each and every one of us does the right thing by checking that the messages we receive come from reliable sources, and make the effort to verify a claim or piece of information before sharing it," he said.

Earlier on Monday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin told the House of the actions the Government had taken against fake messages claiming a partial lockdown in Singapore.

In his reply to Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), he cited the case of a 40-year-old man who allegedly circulated a false message claiming he had intel that the Government would close all coffee shops and food courts, and open supermarkets only two days a week.

The man urged people to stock up on items.

On April 27, he was charged with communicating a false message under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, he added. The offence carries a jail term of up to three years, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

Mr Amrin said: "The police take a serious view of all reports of falsehoods regarding the Covid-19 situation, including those that claim 'partial lockdowns' as these may cause public alarm."

Read the latest on the Covid-19 situation in Singapore and beyond on our dedicated site here.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/parliament-about-40-instances-of-covid-19-fake-news-debunked-since-start-of-2020

Offline ainat

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2020, 07:10:37 PM »
Corrections and clarifications regarding falsehoods and misleading statements by Mr Thum Ping Tjin
False and misleading statements made in a YouTube video by Mr Thum Ping Tjin
Published on 13 May 2020

1.     A YouTube video by Mr Thum Ping Tjin contains several false and misleading statements.

Falsehoods

2.     On 8 May 2020, Mr Thum published a YouTube video episode of The Show by PJ Thum on the New Naratif YouTube channel, claiming, amongst other things, the following.

a.     Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), the definition of “false” means that “even if one bit is found to be wrong or misleading, the whole statement can be considered false. The definition is so broad that the omission of a fact, accidentally or otherwise, is sufficient for something to be considered misleading. The problem is, it’s impossible to include every single fact about anything in the statement. You can’t! And even if you could, anyone could selectively quote it, so that what they quote is misleading. So under this law, every statement can be considered false in some way”.

b.     POFMA makes all criticisms of the Government illegal.

c.     There is no recourse in law for the Court to overturn a POFMA direction if it is an abuse of the powers under POFMA.

d.     POFMA “means that the truth will be whatever the party says it is”.1

3.     The above are false, for the following reasons:

    POFMA applies only to factual statements that are false (Section 2(2) of POFMA). It does not apply to opinions. If there is a dispute as to whether the statement is false, or whether it is a statement of fact, the dispute can be determined by the Courts. Further, the whole statement will not be considered false, automatically, just because “one bit” of it is false. The Courts have, over centuries, developed criteria for assessing falsehoods. It is untrue to say that “every statement can be considered false in some way” and be subject to POFMA.

    Criticisms which are opinions and not statements of fact are not covered by POFMA (Section 2(2)(a) of POFMA). Criticisms which are based on true facts, are also not covered by POFMA. POFMA only applies to falsehoods. It is untrue (and absurd) to say that POFMA makes all criticisms of the Government illegal. Before and after POFMA came into force, there have been criticisms of the Government (including by Mr Thum), on a regular basis. They have not been the subject of POFMA.

    The Courts have judicial oversight of the exercise of powers under POFMA. It is therefore untrue to say that there can be no recourse in law, when there has been abuse of POFMA powers

    For the above reasons, it is also false for Mr Thum to assert that POFMA “means that the truth will be whatever the party says it is.”1

4.     Mr Thum also states that POFMA has been used against the “interpretation of statistical data” by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). This is also false. The issue was not about interpretation of statistics. The SDP had made a direct, false statement. (See MOM’s clarification in the said SDP case.)  SDP challenged the POFMA directions against it, and the High Court held that there was no basis for the directions to be set aside, because SDP had made false statements of fact. The High Court’s judgment is publicly available.

Additional Clarifications

5.     Contrary to what Mr Thum suggests, people are free to criticise and disagree with the Government.

6.     POFMA has been used to deal specifically with falsehoods, which suggested that the Government is mismanaging public funds, abusing police power, favouring foreigners over locals, and carrying out judicial executions in an unlawful, brutal manner, among others. The consequences that such falsehoods about public institutions can have on society were extensively set out in the Government’s Green Paper, the Select Committee Report, and the Second Reading speech for POFMA. Those interested can look at this material and form their own views as to whether, as Mr Thum claims, POFMA has been used in a manner inconsistent with government assurances.

7.     POFMA has enabled these falsehoods to be corrected in a targeted manner. Powers under POFMA are in fact narrower than pre-existing legislation dealing with falsehoods.

8.     Further, so far, the primary approach has been to issue Correction Directions under POFMA.2 Where a Correction Direction has been issued, the original article remains completely accessible. Readers can read for themselves both the primary piece and the correction, and make up their own minds. Recipients of POFMA directions who put up the Correction Notice can continue to put forward their point of view on the issue, and their original articles also remain available for anyone to read.

9.     POFMA was used against COVID-19-related falsehoods in 11 of the 18 POFMA cases to date. In 7 of these cases, directions were issued within 24 hours, sometimes in a matter of hours.

10.     Mr Thum states that the court process takes a long time. But, as the Government has said, POFMA’s Rules provide for the High Court hearing to be held 6 working days after the originating summons is filed in court, which is expedited, compared with the usual process which could take some months.  As the Government has also said, there are no hearing fees for the first three days (if the hearing does take three days), and the Court will have the power to waive any further fees. For individuals, filing fees are lower than ordinary court fees. The Government had also explained that how long the hearing takes, and how long the Courts take to decide, are matters for the Courts; Parliament and the Executive cannot intervene in those.

11.     Mr Thum also misleadingly uses a video clip of an interview with the Minister for Law to suggest that POFMA can be easily abused by a future government. He  omits the first part of the Minister’s answer, which is that “first of all, there are checks… the courts have oversight of it. So there is a clear oversight mechanism (and) checks.”

12.     Contrary to what Mr Thum said, the Government did not try to apply the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act retroactively in Mr Li Shengwu’s case. The substantive law applicable to the case was common law contempt, and not the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act.

13.     Mr Thum claims that “past PAP governments have spread misinformation to silence critics, like in Operation Spectrum.” These are his opinions (and thus not subject to a POFMA Direction).  Similar claims have been refuted elsewhere.

14.     Public clarifications on POFMA have been put out by the Government, repeatedly. Yet, in the past year, Mr Thum has on multiple occasions repeated falsehoods and misleading statements similar to those in this case. He is clearly aware of what the true scope of POFMA is: when a viewer asked whether his criticisms of the government may be false, he shrugged off the suggestion, stating that “POFMA is supposed to only be used against ‘false statements of facts’,” meaning, his opinions cannot be the subject of POFMA.  Thus his statements (set out in para 2 above), that POFMA can be used in respect of all statements, are entirely cynical, and he obviously knows that they are untrue.

15.     Under the Correction Directions issued to Mr Thum and New Naratif, the 8 May video can remain accessible to the public. That gives the lie to any suggestion of censorship. It will allow viewers to view his video, and this statement, and reach their own conclusions.

[1] Mr Thum refers to ‘party’, presumably referring to the ruling party. The Orders under POFMA are made by the Government.

[2] Two entities have refused to comply with the Correction Directions. Accordingly, their sites were blocked. One was a person who has persistently set up various sites to purvey falsehoods, for financial gain.

Source: https://www.gov.sg/article/factually-corrections-on-falsehoods-about-pofma-by-thum-ping-tjin

Reference: https://youtu.be/AWjPx48lRVM

Offline ainat

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Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2020, 04:53:34 PM »
Deep Learning meets Fake News



Reference 1 (Source code, Python): https://github.com/krishnaik06/Fake-New-LSTM

Reference 2 (Competition): https://www.kaggle.com/c/fake-news