Legal (partially private, only for registered users) => Agencies & Associations => Topic started by: greentara on January 20, 2018, 11:16:04 AM

Title: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on January 20, 2018, 11:16:04 AM

Annexe A: Green Paper

Annexe B: Factsheet on Select Committee

Annexe C: Infographic on Deliberate Online Falsehoods

Annexe D: Infographic on the Select Committee Process

Backup: Cache of Annexe A to D (
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on January 20, 2018, 11:17:12 AM
Official Media Coverage

Select Committee to examine fake news threat in Singapore

Parliament: MPs suggest various approaches to tackle fake news
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on January 20, 2018, 11:23:04 AM

Mission: "We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding. is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels."

Process: "At, we follow a process when we select, research, write, edit and, if necessary, correct our articles.",
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on January 20, 2018, 11:29:30 AM
Facebook to Let Users Rank Credibility of News

20th Jan 2018: Original posting by Mark Zuckerberg:

"Continuing our focus for 2018 to make sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent...

Last week I announced a major change to encourage meaningful social interactions with family and friends over passive consumption. As a result, you'll see less public content, including news, video, and posts from brands. After this change, we expect news to make up roughly 4% of News Feed -- down from roughly 5% today. This is a big change, but news will always be a critical way for people to start conversations on important topics.
Today I'm sharing our second major update this year: to make sure the news you see, while less overall, is high quality. I've asked our product teams to make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local. And we're starting next week with trusted sources.
There's too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today. Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don't specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them. That's why it's important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.
The hard question we've struggled with is how to decide what news sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division. We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that's not something we're comfortable with. We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem. Or we could ask you -- the community -- and have your feedback determine the ranking.
We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.
Here's how this will work. As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they're familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source. The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don't follow them directly. (We eliminate from the sample those who aren't familiar with a source, so the output is a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.)
This update will not change the amount of news you see on Facebook. It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.
My hope is that this update about trusted news and last week's update about meaningful interactions will help make time on Facebook time well spent: where we're strengthening our relationships, engaging in active conversations rather than passive consumption, and, when we read news, making sure it's from high quality and trusted sources."
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on February 07, 2018, 07:34:15 AM
(From left) The headline Mr Neo Aik Chau edited and the original headline.

Facebook user apologises for doctoring article on City Harvest verdict
Feb 07, 2018 | SEOW BEI YI

A man who uploaded a doctored newspaper report on Facebook, suggesting a lawyer -who is an MP from the People's Action Party (PAP) - saved the six people in the City Harvest Church case from harsher sentences, has apologised on social media.

Mr Neo Aik Chau, 38, a delivery driver, posted the apology on his Facebook page yesterday.

He also apologised in at least two other Facebook groups but not on the public page where he uploaded the doctored report.

Mr Neo's apologies came a day after the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) wrote to him about the false report.

Writing in Chinese on his Facebook page, Mr Neo said:"I swear not to post anything like this again. Please forgive me."

On Monday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said the AGC considers the Facebook post of the doctored article a case of contempt by scandalising the courts.

Originally posted on a public Facebook group whose name translates to "Policy discussion forum", Mr Neo's post was of Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao's Page 1 report with a false headline.

The original said an outdated law saved Kong Hee and five others from harsher penalties.

The false headline said a PAP lawyer saved them, referring to Mr Edwin Tong, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, who was Kong's lawyer in the criminal trial.

Shin Min Daily News reported yesterday that Mr Neo said he was "inspired" by coffee-shop chatter over the verdict.

"I'd only meant to put it on the Facebook group as a talking point, and did not have malicious intent. I didn't think it would be reposted," he said.

Lianhe Wanbao editor Goh Sin Teck said of the fake headline: "This is not creativity and is a type of behaviour with malicious intent, attempting to mislead the public. It should be condemned."

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on November 09, 2018, 07:25:09 PM
Fake (doctored) Video

Reference 1: (cache (
Reference 2: (cache (
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on November 22, 2018, 01:25:49 PM
Anti-Fake News Platforms

1. Fact Check:

2. Fact Check SG:

3. BBC Fake New Section:

4. Snopes:
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on January 01, 2019, 07:41:36 PM

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on February 25, 2019, 11:51:23 PM
Parliament: 'Curious' spike in online comments critical of S'pore during dispute with Malaysia, says Edwin Tong
Feb 12, 2019 | Adrian Lim

SINGAPORE - When the dispute with Malaysia over maritime and airspace issues late last year was top news, there was a "curious" spike in online comments critical of Singapore on social media, said Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong.

These posts were made using what are “essentially” anonymous accounts, Mr Tong disclosed in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 12).

He also said that on the issue of traffic jams at land checkpoints, these "avatar accounts" with profile photos that do not show the user's face account for about 40 per cent of comments on alternative media's social media pages.

In citing the jams, he said it shows how foreign actors can interfere in Singapore's politics through online campaigns and false information.

But steps are being taken to update the laws later this year to counter such threats.

As for the case of the Singapore-KL dispute, he said: "We do not know who these suspicious accounts belong to. Nor do we know if they are being coordinated by foreign actors.

"But it is clear that these accounts have sought to give and create an artificial impression to netizens of the opposition to Singapore's position, at a time of heightened bilateral difficulties."

Mr Tong was replying to Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC), who had asked if there had been instances of foreign interference in Singapore.

On last year's SingHealth hacking incident, Mr Tong said the cyber attackers - who are advanced and typically state-linked - wanted to extract the heath information of Singaporeans, particularly that of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"Cyber hackings are often deployed in concert with hostile information campaigns to search for information that can be weaponised," he added.

Earlier, Mr Tong described to the House how foreign actors had interfered in the politics and elections in such countries as the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Ukraine.

“No country is immune. This is asymmetric information warfare, fought in a theatre and an era with no distinction between war and peace,” he said.

Mr Tong added: “In this battlefield, Singapore, an open, democratic, digitally-connected and diverse country, is especially vulnerable.

“We are a young country with sensitive fault-lines that foreign actors can exploit to foment distrust and ill-will among our various communities.”

Mr Tong said many countries he mentioned had learnt “hard lessons” and are taking actions to expose and counter foreign interference.

To ward off foreign interference in local politics and elections, Singapore is developing a strategy on two fronts.

The first is to sensitise Singaporeans to the threat and nurture a discerning public, he said. "We are our own first line of defence. We must learn to be sceptical of and be able to discern falsehoods or half-truths, and detect foreign actors and their attempts to interfere in our politics."

Second, the legal framework - which is "outmoded against modern and technologically-sophisticated tactics" - has to be updated and enhanced to counter hostile information campaigns.

Mr Tong said the new laws have two broad objectives.

One, to let the Government "act swiftly and effectively to disrupt and counter false, misleading and inauthentic information and narratives spread by foreign actors".

"We must also be able to preemptively expose clandestine foreign interference campaigns," he added.

Two, to prevent foreign actors from manipulating politically-involved individuals and organisations through the use of proxies, funding and donations, he said.

Mr Tong cited the case of Dr Huang Jing, a former professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, who was identified by the Government as an agent of influence acting on behalf of a foreign country. Dr Huang, who was stripped of his permanent residency status in 2017, sought to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion here.

"We must not allow foreign actors to undermine our political sovereignty, nor our ability to make our own choices on how we want to govern our country, and live our lives," he said.


Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on May 30, 2019, 09:25:29 AM
A look at key changes to Protection from Harassment Act
By NEO RONG WEI | 07 May, 2019

SINGAPORE — Crucial changes to the Protection from Harassment Act (Poha) were passed in Parliament on Tuesday (May 7) to streamline procedures for victims of online bullying and harassment, and to tackle offences such as doxxing.

The changes set up a new court within the State Courts to simplify the court process for anyone seeking a court order to deal with online and other harassment — and to deliver more efficient and more effective relief.


#1. Doxxing

Doxxing, the act of publishing information about a victim’s identity, will now be considered an offence if it matches at least one of the following criteria. The publication was:

    o Made with the intention to harass the victim
    o Made with the knowledge or intention to put the victim in fear of violence
    o Made with the knowledge or intention to provoke the use of violence against the victim.

Examples that do not constitute doxxing include:

    o Identifying the perpetrators of crimes, including traffic offences or Poha offences
    o Posting videos of public disputes to give a factual account of the incident

Why change it?

The current laws do not address this type of behaviour, as they require communications to be “threatening, abusive or insulting”. Doxxing attempts, like sending out emails, and divulging personal and identifiable information, may not meet this criterion under the previous provisions.

#2. Curbing the spread of online falsehoods

The amended law creates a new general correction order, which will enable victims to go to court to seek an order to require a third party such as a news outlet to publish a correction, if "serious harm" to one’s reputation was suffered due to the publication of a falsehood.

The new order joins four existing orders in Poha, which were enhanced to allow interim orders to be made, to curb the spread of false statements quickly. They are:

    o Stop publication orders: To stop the publication of false statements by individuals or entities
    o Correction orders: To require the publication of a corrected statement or draw attention to the falsity in the false statement
    o Disabling orders: To require the disabling of access to false statements circulated by an Internet intermediary
    o Targeted correction orders: Requiring the distribution of a correction of false statement to viewers on the Internet intermediary’s platform

​These orders can be made by the court if both the following criteria are satisfied:

    o The statement being complained of is false
    o It is just and equitable to seek the order

Protection will also extend to entities to ensure that companies and their staff do not suffer or lose their livelihoods as a result of falsehoods.

These provisions will deal only with false statements of fact such as misleading statements. This will not include criticism, opinions, satire and parody.

Why change it?

Just last week, false messages that targeted actor Lim Kay Tong and local football legend Fandi Ahmad were circulated. The amendments will make it easier and quicker for victims of falsehoods to seek recourse and counter false statements with the truth.

The general correction order taps the wide reach of third parties such as news outlets to correct viral falsehoods that have spread across different platforms.

#3. A new court

The new Protection from Harassment Court within the State Courts will oversee all criminal and civil cases, dealing with both online and offline harassment. Judges will be trained to deal with harassment-related matters as well.

The court process will be streamlined, with a simplified application form for protection orders (POs) at the new court, or it can be filed online. With the new court, these PO applications can be processed in a shorter time frame.

The court will aim to conduct hearings for expedited protection orders (EPOs) within 48 to 72 hours of an application being made. Where there is an element of violence or doxxing involved, the court will try to conduct hearings for EPOs within 24 hours of an application being made.

When granting an EPO, the judge will determine if a criminal investigation is warranted and refer the case to the police, to ensure that action will be taken against serious cases of hurt or harassment.

Victims need not prove their case more than once, as the amendments will help victims meet the burden of proof. Previously, victims who filed a Magistrate’s Complaint had to apply for a PO to enjoy protection and reproduce the evidence of the harassment in the process.

Why change it?

Simplifying and streamlining the court processes may relieve some of the anxieties faced by applicants and encourage those in need to come forward.

#4. Enhancing protection for harassment victims

The scope of POs will be expanded, and can now

    o Prevent the publication of similar harassing material that has been changed slightly by an offender and shared by others. Internet intermediaries can be ordered to disable access to offending communications — to stop the material going viral.
    o Protect people related to the victim such as family members
    o Protect against harassing or violent entities such as illegal debt collectors

The court will also be given more power when granting POs:

    The respondent can be ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment and undergo psychiatric treatment in a civil proceeding. Previously, this was possible only in a criminal proceeding

Other amendments that strengthen the law to help victims and increase deterrence include:

    o Domestic exclusion orders which allow victims to exclude a harasser from their shared residence, even if the harasser has ownership of it
    o Holding entities can be held liable for harassment behaviour by employees
    o Arrests will be made when the PO is breached — if hurt is caused, or persistent harassment continues despite the order
    o Penalties for offences against vulnerable persons or victims of intimate partner violence will be doubled
    o Maximum penalties for subsequent breaches of a PO will be doubled

Why change it?

The lack of severity in punishments is a factor that deters victims from applying for POs, which the amendments seek to address. The amendments also aim to deter potential harassers.

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on May 30, 2019, 09:27:38 AM
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on May 30, 2019, 09:35:28 AM
Pelosi videos manipulated to make her appear drunk are being shared on social media:

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on July 13, 2019, 02:45:03 PM
How the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act Applies (from MinLaw)


Source (PDF):
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on October 17, 2019, 10:39:20 AM
Hong Kong protests and ‘fake news’: in the psychological war for hearts and minds, disinformation becomes a weapon used by both sides
Linda Lew | 14 Oct, 2019

It’s hard for the public to know what to believe, as both camps present skewed versions of protest events. Illustration: Kaliz Lee

Masato Kajimoto is leading a University of Hong Kong (HKU) team scrutinising images, videos and any information from the ongoing anti-government protests, trying to tell which are real, misleading or fake.

It is hard work. In September alone, there were no fewer than 5,000 images shared in a single channel of Telegram, the messaging application used widely by protesters
for updates on demonstrations now in their fifth month.

It is almost impossible to verify the authenticity of every image, says Kajimoto, an assistant professor at the university’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre.
What is clear is that different camps in the ongoing unrest spread selective images and videos to sway public opinion, and disinformation is not only part of the game but a “psychological warfare” tool wielded by both sides.

“It is really hard to win somebody’s heart with just facts and accurate information,” he said. “You have to appeal to people’s emotions.”

And that can mean presenting an incomplete, misleading or false picture of what is happening on the ground.

Scholars say that, as the protests continue, the problem of disinformation is worsening. And, as Hongkongers consume media content that fails to present the whole truth, society is in danger of being polarised to such an extent that reconciliation between opposing sides will become even more difficult.
Flash mob protests, vandalism flare up across Hong Kong as police fire tear gas

To illustrate how each side can present the same incident in different ways and evoke strong, opposing reactions, Kajimoto referred to an incident at Sham Shui Po on October 6, when a taxi driver was beaten by a mob after his vehicle ran into a crowd and left a woman seriously injured.

The video clip shared extensively among social media groups supporting the protesters focused on the earlier part of the incident, when the taxi was seen moving into a crowd of black-clad demonstrators, sparking panic and screams.

It appeared to back the protesters’ claim that the cabby had deliberately driven into the protesters, intending to harm them.

However, pro-government groups shared a video clip of what happened afterwards, showing a mob smashing the taxi with rods and dragging the driver out, with graphic images of the 59-year-old cabby covered in blood.

I tell my students that unless you know exactly what happened from the beginning to the end, you cannot make any conclusion Masato Kajimoto, HKU assistant professor

The cabby’s association issued a statement condemning the assault, saying the driver lost control of his vehicle after protesters attacked it.

Kajimoto said such selective representation made it nearly impossible to form an objective opinion of the incident.

“I tell my students that unless you know exactly what happened from the beginning to the end, you cannot make any conclusion,” he said.

What to believe, who to trust?

Associate Professor Donna Chu, from the School of Journalism and Communication at Chinese University, said the spread of disinformation was a result of fundamental changes in the media environment and the development of information technology.

Sources of information have proliferated and in the protests, many get their updates and swap live news, pictures and video over social media sites and mobile applications such as Telegram, LIHKG, WhatsApp, Line and Facebook.

Banks implement staff contingency plans as protests rage

Disinformation was rampant and that meant people needed to be more vigilant about verifying the accuracy of the news they received, Chu said.

In a telephone poll commissioned by Hong Kong daily Ming Pao, 842 people rated on a scale of 0 to 10 the form of media they valued as an important source of news on the protests.

Media live streaming from the scene received the highest average score of 8.12, well above the 6.85 for traditional media and 6.01 for social media.

The director of Chinese University’s School of Journalism and Communication, Francis Lee Lap-fung, said in an opinion piece for the daily that live streaming, with its instant delivery, made audiences feel they were participating in history and its unedited nature gave the impression that it was free from editorial control and selection.

In a handbook on fact-checking to help journalism educators, trainers and students deal with the issue of “fake news”, the UN’s heritage body Unesco describes three categories of “untruths”.

Misinformation refers to false information that is not meant to cause harm; disinformation is blatantly false information created to cause harm to individuals or groups; and mal-information is information based on reality and used to harm a person or group.

Elderly protesters rally at police headquarters in support of alleged abuse victims

Disinformation campaigns can have serious consequences.

In the run-up to the 2016 United States presidential election, a “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory spread widely on social media, alleging that several restaurants and Democratic Party officials were involved in human trafficking and running child sex rings.

A man who believed the story went to a Washington pizza restaurant falsely accused of being involved and discharged his gun. The theory has been widely debunked.

It makes matters worse when people in powerful positions make use of disinformation.

Kajimoto pointed to US President Donald Trump, who has been criticised countless times for making statements that are misleading or outright untrue, even as he has been unrelenting in attacking the credibility of media outlets.

In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor
and cabinet member Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun have both made claims based on unverified messages circulating online.

On Tuesday, Lam said protesters had set up roadblocks on highways and checked the identification documents of people in vehicles. She had no proof of the incident, but said it had been “circulated online recently and probably happened”.

Law was criticised for claiming last month that a 14-year-old girl had provided “free sex
” to protesters.

Asked for more information, she produced a message circulating on WhatsApp and claimed that “a cruise buddy” told her it was true.

Dr Fu King-wa, an associate professor at HKU’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, said although Law was not the source of the claim, she lent credibility to unverified information.

“She is a public figure and because of her political power, by quoting misinformation, she introduced unfounded accusations to the public domain,” he said.

Chinese state media have also been accused of reporting disinformation related to the Hong Kong protests.

After Law made the news with her “free sex” remarks, state-backed tabloid Global Times posted a video of an unidentified 16-year-old girl claiming she was sexually assaulted by some protesters she befriended.

However, Hong Kong online users slammed the report, calling it fake. Comments left on a copy of the video hosted on YouTube said the Cantonese phrases used by the girl were not common in Hong Kong. They doubted if the girl was from the city at all.

Last month, Twitter suspended more than 200,000 mainland China-based accounts that formed a spam network, saying close to 1,000 of them were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong”.

Lies spread faster than facts

In Hong Kong, setting the facts straight on incidents involving police presents a special challenge because of plummeting trust in the force.

On August 31, for example, police and protesters clashed inside Prince Edward MTR station, leading to a number of injuries.

When the number of people hurt was revised, a rumour began circulating that police had beaten some protesters to death. Photos of bodies were shared online, along with the claim that these were people arrested on August 31.

Government officials, police, MTR Corporation and the fire service tried to explain multiple times that there were no deaths that day, but some anti-government protesters continue purveying the debunked rumour.

Protesters who began gathering outside Prince Edward station demanding “truth and justice” have continued to do so off and on until now.

Kajimoto said the incident and its aftermath showed how trust in the police had declined to such a level that a section of the public did not believe what the police force said any more.

“If somebody floats conspiracy theories on social media and you’re against the police, you believe that. Or you don’t care if it’s true or not,” he said.
Scramble to protect district council polls candidates from doxxing

In the Ming Pao poll, almost half of the respondents said they had zero trust in police, a dramatic fall since May and June, when only 4 per cent said they had no trust in the force.

Scholars said the disinformation related to the protests was unlikely to end because the ongoing crisis needed a political solution.

“False information is the tip of the iceberg,” Kajimoto said. “This is just a symptom and it’s not the cause of the problem. If we cannot cure the cause of the polarisation, this will never stop.”

In the meantime, Fu said, people needed to hone their media literacy skills and never forward unconfirmed information, as it could be false and have a significant impact on recipients.

“People might believe something not because of the information itself, but because it came from you,” he said.

Some social media users have started a fact-checking effort, reminding everyone to pause and ensure a piece of information is accurate before forwarding it to others.

A Facebook page called “Kauyim”, the Cantonese term for “verify”, has attracted more than 122,000 followers to its updates, debunking fake online posts relating to the protests.

Describing who they are and what they do, the Kauyim team of anonymous volunteers says in the introduction to the page: “We are fact-checkers and rumour-busters. Facts triumph over lies. Rumours are most afraid of the wise.”

People might believe something not because of the information itself, but because it came from you Fu King-wa, HKU associate professor

In existence since 2014, the group has not stated its political position and debunks both anti-government and pro-government disinformation.

The challenge with fact-checking, however, is that it takes time and effort to verify a piece of news, by which time the false information could already have gone viral.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers who looked at Twitter data retrieved between 2006 and 2017 found that falsehoods travelled six times faster than truths.

As Kajimoto put it: “Fact-checked stories don’t really go viral.”

Additional reporting by Sum Lok-kei and Gigi Choy


Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on November 28, 2019, 09:21:51 PM
Opposition member told to correct FB post as Govt uses fake news law
David Sun | Nov 26, 2019

Mr Brad Bowyer, a member of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), has been issued a directive to correct false statements under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), the first time Singapore's law against fake news has been used.

Mr Bowyer was issued a correction direction yesterday by the Pofma Office under the instruction of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat over a Facebook post he made on Nov 13, in which he implied the Government was involved in investment decisions made by GIC and Temasek Holdings.

It required that Mr Bowyer put up in full a correction note along with his post, that remained online.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said it was necessary to clarify the false statements in the post.

"Mr Bowyer's post contains clearly false statements of fact, and undermines public trust in the Government," it said.

"GIC and Temasek operate on a commercial basis, and the Government is not involved in their individual investment decisions."

Less than three hours after issuing a correction on his Facebook, Mr Bowyer made another post claiming he did not assert some of the falsehoods.

The New Paper understands that the MOF is aware of his most recent post.

Pofma came into effect on Oct 2. It gives ministers the power to act against online falsehood when it is in the public interest to do so.

They can order that it be taken down or ask for corrections to be put up alongside.

Individuals who fail to comply with the direction can be fined up to $20,000, or jailed for up to a year, or both.

Mr Bowyer edited his Nov 13 post at about noon yesterday, saying it "contains false statements of fact".

After issuing the correction, he posted a statement on Facebook at 12.20pm that he had done so in response to the correction direction.

"I have no problem in following that request as I feel it is fair to have both points of view and clarifications and corrections of fact when necessary," he said.

But at about 2.30pm, he put up another post claiming he had not asserted some of the falsehoods, responding to each statement made by state-run webpage Factually on the case.

Factually had published an article yesterday on falsehoods in Mr Bowyer's Nov 13 post.


It listed statements by Mr Bowyer regarding the Government's involvement in the investment decisions of Temasek and GIC, the Amaravati Project in Andhra Pradesh, India, and the Salt Bae steakhouse chain.

It said Mr Bowyer's claim that $4 billion was poorly invested in the Amaravati Project by government-linked companies was false, and that costs were limited to design services that amounted to a few million dollars.

Factually also refuted Mr Bowyer's assertions that Temasek invested in the "debt-ridden" parent company which owns Salt Bae. The article said Temasek invested in D.ream International BV, which operates 60 restaurants worldwide, and not its shareholder Dogus Holding A.S, the parent company of Salt Bae.

Factually also listed clarifications to Mr Bowyer's statements regarding Keppel and Bharti Airtel.

Speaking to TNP yesterday, Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said some might feel that Pofma is a tool to quell dissent after it was used against someone in the political sphere.

But he explained that the use of Pofma on political figures is a result of the public nature of their position.

"A false or misleading statement of public interest is likely to come from someone in politics because such individuals are by the very nature of their position public and can influence the public discourse," he said.

"It shouldn't surprise us because Pofma seeks to ensure public discourse takes place with accurate facts.

"If public discourse is premised on falsehoods and inaccurate information, then society would be the ultimate loser."



Corrections and clarifications regarding falsehoods posted by Mr Brad Bowyer

1. The Facebook post by Mr Brad Bowyer contains false statements of fact and misleading statements.


I.  Singapore Government’s involvement in investment decisions by Temasek and GIC

2. Mr Bowyer implies that the Singapore Government controls Temasek’s and GIC’s commercial decisions. This is false.

3. The Government does not influence, let alone direct, the individual investment decisions made by Temasek and GIC. Which companies they invest in, or divest from, is entirely the responsibility of their respective management teams. The Government likewise does not interfere in the commercial decisions of Temasek’s and GIC’s portfolio companies.

4. Temasek and GIC are run on market principles, independent of the Government. Many of their portfolio companies are publicly listed. The Government’s role is to ensure that Temasek and GIC have competent boards, which ensure that their respective mandates are met. The Government also holds the boards of Temasek and GIC accountable for their respective overall performances.

II.  Amaravati Project

5. Mr Bowyer says “…we also saw the recent canning of the Amaravati city project part of the S$4 billion already dumped into Andhra Pradesh by GLCs and related parties so India has not been so good an investment choice after all…”. There are implicit factual assertions that (1) a substantial part of S$4 billion invested in Andhra Pradesh was put into the Amaravati project; and (2) S$4 billion has been poorly invested (“dumped”) by Government-linked companies (“GLCs”) and related parties in Andhra Pradesh. These are false.

6. First, the Singapore Consortium (comprising Ascendas Singbridge Pte Ltd (now part of CapitaLand Group) and Sembcorp Development Ltd) in the Amaravati project has stated publicly that the costs incurred have been limited to design services prior to commencement of execution works on the ground, amounting to a few million dollars. There are no billions of dollars involved.
7. Second, not only GLCs and related parties have invested in Andhra Pradesh. Several other Singaporean companies have also done so. An example of a non-GLC investment in Andhra Pradesh is Indus Coffee Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of a listed company in Singapore. 

III.  Salt Bae

8. Mr Bowyer asserts that Temasek invested in the debt-ridden parent company which owns Salt Bae. This is false.

9. The Salt Bae chain of restaurants is owned by a company called D.ream International BV, which operates 60 restaurants throughout the world via four operating subsidiaries. Temasek invested in D.ream International BV, and not in one of D.ream International BV’s shareholders called Doğuş Holding A.Ş. The company that is reportedly in difficulties according to the article cited by Mr Bowyer, is Doğuş Holding A.Ş., and not D.ream International BV.

Additional Clarifications

10. Additional clarifications on the points Mr Bowyer has raised are set out below.

Temasek, GIC and public funds

11. Mr Bowyer uses false and misleading statements to smear the reputation of Temasek and GIC:

a. Over the past 20 years, Temasek’s total shareholder return has been 7% (annualised, in SGD terms). Temasek’s overall portfolio has grown from less than S$100 billion in 2002 to over S$300 billion today.

b. Temasek is subject to market scrutiny and discipline. Since 2004, Temasek has published its financial information annually. Temasek also issues Bonds and Eurocommercial Paper to retail, institutional, accredited and other specified investors as part of its financial discipline. Additionally, Temasek has been rated Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service and AAA by S&P Global Ratings, ever since its inaugural ratings in 2004.

c. Under the Net Investment Returns (NIR) framework, the expected returns of Temasek, GIC and MAS together, contribute around 20% of Government revenue currently. The Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC) is the single largest contributor to Government revenue, exceeding GST.

d. This contrasts starkly with most other countries. In the United States, 1 out of every 10 dollars of US federal government revenue goes towards servicing interest payments on the federal debt. In Singapore, 1 out of every 5 dollars of revenue spent comes from the returns on our reserves. In other words, instead of having to tax citizens to service interest on government debt, Singapore has managed to increase social and other spending through NIRC from Temasek, GIC and MAS, while keeping taxes low.

e. Temasek and GIC are managed prudently and competently. No other sovereign wealth funds have contributed so significantly to national budgets and the economy, without relying on natural resources or a large domestic economy.


12. Mr Bowyer suggests Keppel Corporation or its subsidiary has suffered losses due to the $0.5 billion fine imposed. This is misleading.

13. In the last 33 years, Keppel has made profits every year. In the last 4 years, Keppel has made profits of S$3.4 billion, including a S$196 million net profit in the year when the Brazilian fine was imposed. Keppel has been declaring dividends regularly as a listed company to all its shareholders, including Temasek.

Bharti Airtel

14. Mr Bowyer refers to Singtel’s investment in Bharti Airtel. Singtel’s shareholding today is valued at S$13 billion, which is more than double its investment to date of S$5.1 billion. Bharti Airtel faces a number of recent regulatory and Indian Supreme Court decisions. These are matters for Bharti Airtel and Singtel to address.

Amaravati Project

15. Mr Bowyer suggests that S$4 billion in investments by GLCs and related parties in Andhra Pradesh have all been doing poorly. Mr Bowyer makes this sweeping statement, but gives no basis for it.

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara 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.



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.


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:

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.

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara 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.


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.


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."


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.


Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara on January 27, 2020, 05:35:02 PM

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


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 for updates on the Wuhan coronavirus situation.


Reference 1 (defunct):

Reference 2: "[Correction Notice] As of 26 Jan at 11pm: No deaths in Singapore from Wuhan Coronavirus":

Reference 3:
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: greentara 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.


Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: ainat 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.


Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: ainat 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.


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 for updates on the COVID-19 situation.


Reference (Temasek Review Facebook:


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):

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: ainat 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”).


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

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


Reference 1 (TOC): Taiwan news reports that Ho Ching makes S$99 million a year as Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings
Cache 1:

Reference 2 (Lim Tean FB):
Cache 2:

Reference 3 (Hardwarezone Forum):
Cache 3:
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: ainat 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 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 (

Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: ainat 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.


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.


Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: ainat on May 24, 2020, 04:53:34 PM
Deep Learning meets Fake News

Reference 1 (Source code, Python):

Reference 2 (Competition):
Title: Re: Minlaw: Combating Online Falsehoods (aka Fake News)
Post by: ainat on June 01, 2021, 05:46:52 PM
AI to power Google's battle against fake news
Mr Sundar Pichai made two of the biggest AI announcements at Google's developer conference on May 18, 2021.
Irene Tham | Jun 1, 2021, 5:00 am SGT

SINGAPORE - Technology giant Google's artificial intelligence (AI) development, particularly on understanding human language, will be its strongest effort yet against misinformation, says its chief executive officer Sundar Pichai.

"Humans use language in such complex ways. Our automated systems today sometimes don't detect misinformation because they don't understand the context," he said in a virtual interview last Thursday (May 27).

"The work we are doing in AI will deepen and will over time be our strongest effort against misinformation," he told The Straits Times in a call with seven other journalists from the Asia-Pacific and Brazil.

Two of the biggest AI announcements at Google's developer conference on May 18 involved natural language processing and search.

The first, LaMDA, stands for language model for dialogue applications. It allows chatbots to have conversational dialogues. The technology is still being fine-tuned to ensure the model sticks to facts and does not propagate biases before it can be rolled out.

The other, Multitask Unified Model (MUM), is an AI model that boosts understanding of complex human questions as well as text and images to improve search results.

For instance, a human hiking expert would be able to provide a thoughtful answer to this question: "I've hiked Mt Adams. Now I want to hike Mt Fuji. What should I do differently to prepare?"

The answer would consider, among other things, the elevation of each mountain, the average temperature, difficulty of the hiking trails, the type of fitness training required and the right gear to use.

Google search aims to mimic this human trait. It currently requires users to make several thoughtfully considered searches for mountain elevation, terrain and weather to get a similar answer.

MUM's development is still nascent, but it paves the way for machines to understand and interpret natural language and images.

These ongoing developments - together with a current search algorithm that ranks reputable news organisations or local authorities higher in search results - is the foundation of Google's work in countering misinformation, said Mr Pichai.

"We rely on our (search) ranking to elevate higher-quality information, including information from news organisations, local health authorities and medical organisations," he said.

In recent months, it has focused on rolling out new features to help Internet users get accurate Covid-19 vaccine-related information.

In Singapore, for instance, users searching for such information on Google see a left panel containing links to the latest news and authoritative information about locally approved vaccines, side effects, registration and vaccine locations, and worldwide dose statistics.

This is possible through partnering Singapore's Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.

Vaccine locations also show up on Google Maps. The feature was rolled out in the United States, France, India, Singapore and South Korea earlier this year.

Last year, Google worked with News Corp-owned news and intelligence agency Storyful to create an application called Source to help newsrooms detect fake images. The app uses Google's AI technology to analyse an image's public history and provenance, including any manipulation.

Much of Google's work to counter online misinformation also involves funding quality journalism.

A major milestone was the March 2018 launch of the Google News Initiative with a US$300 million (S$397 million) commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age. One of the recent projects supported by the initiative is JournalismAI - a global scheme to promote the use of AI in journalism fronted by the London School of Economics' media think-tank, Polis.

In the Asia-Pacific, five media organisations have been selected to jointly work on this challenge: "How might we use AI and audience insights to help newsrooms design more relevant and interactive news narratives?"

The five are Japan's Fuji Television, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), India's The Quint and Hong Kong's Initium Media and South China Morning Post. The project is ongoing.

Separately, SPH, which publishes The Straits Times, is already trialling Singapore's national speech corpus to train AI chatbots to recognise locally accented English to power a virtual news reader.

Last October, Google also pledged US$1 billion over three years to pay global publishers to create and curate content on its news platform, called Google News Showcase. It is now available in places including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Italy and India.

Regulators, however, have a different idea of how to manage the misinformation war, which is linked to the Internet giants' dominance of online advertising that threatens the survival of media organisations.

Australia fired the first regulatory shot when it passed a landmark media law in February to require tech platforms like Google and Facebook to pay local media publishers to link their content on news feeds or in search results, or face arbitration. Google was close to turning off its search function in Australia as it found the new law - also known as News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code - onerous. Specifically, the law also requires advance alerts about changes to algorithms that might significantly affect referral traffic to news websites.

Google did not carry out the threat, and managed to strike deals with Australian publishers before the law was passed.

Facebook, on the other hand, blocked Australians from accessing and sharing news on its platform, but faced a global backlash. It later reversed its position and forged deals with news publishers.

Google, which is facing government lawsuits in the US over accusations of anti-competitive tactics, seems resigned to more regulatory intervention around the world.

Asked last week if he has concerns that the landmark rule in Australia could set a global precedent, Mr Pichai said: "We had concerns around making sure that free interlinked Internet can work as is, while supporting a way to license content from publishers.

"Different countries have different aspects they get concerned about and they have different regulatory approaches... but we are committed to finding a solution."