Pofma correction directions issued to 4 Facebook pages, 1 website

SINGAPORE – The Facebook pages of two political parties contesting the general election have received correction directions under Singapore’s fake news law, along with two other Facebook pages and a website.

The pages belong to Peoples Voice and the Singapore Democratic Party, as well as The Online Citizen Asia’s website and Facebook page, and the “Sin Rak Sin Party” Facebook page.

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office issued the correction notice over claims that Dr Cheong Koon Hean, chief executive of the Housing Development Board, had suggested at the IPS-Nathan Lectures in 2018 that Singapore’s population would increase to 10 million by 2030.

Dr Cheong did not make such a statement, the Pofma Office said on Saturday (July 4).

The direction was issued on the instruction of the alternate authority for the Minister for National Development.

A targeted correction direction has also been issued to Facebook, which will have to display a correction notice to all users in Singapore who access posts with pictures carrying the same falsehoods on the social media platform.

The Pofma Office said that the Government has clarified Singapore’s population plans on multiple occasions, including in Parliament in March 2018, two articles on the government-run Factually website, and in a media statement issued on July 1.

It said that despite the latest clarification, the falsehood continues to be repeated.

It added that the publication of such falsehoods damages the public interest by undermining legitimate and honest discussion, and that appropriate action may be taken against any further publication of such falsehoods.

A day earlier, the “Sin Rak Sin Party” Facebook page and three other Facebook users – Ryann Smith, Jafri Basron and Denise Fletcher – were also issued correction directions.

They had posted screenshots of, or linked to, an article which contained a false statement that the Urban Redevelopment Authority had released a “plan to build underground infrastructure ready for 10 million population”.

The article which contained the false statement was first published by The Online Citizen on April 4 last year.

On Saturday, the Pofma Office also issued a targeted correction direction to Facebook, after user Jafri Basron did not comply to the correction direction issued to him or her the day before.

The Peoples Voice Facebook page had also previously received a correction direction from the Pofma Office on Thursday over a video containing a false statement about government spending on foreign students.

Party leader Lim Tean’s YouTube channel also received a correction direction.

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