The Flipside

STOMP fooled by fake story

STOMP
STOMP

In "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society. To be taken with a pinch of salt and parental permission is advised. In this post, he talks about the dangers of passing off fake news as real.

In the strangest twist to this by-election season yet, Singapore Press Holdings-owned online portal STOMP briefly presented a fake news piece as the real deal.

The context? A popular photo making the rounds on Facebook showing a woman who had fainted at the North Vista Secondary School nomination centre on 16 Jan this year was dressed up to become a parody piece by New Nation, Singapore's version of The Onion, a U.S. website featuring satirical articles on international, national and local news.

To be fair, The Onion has duped many people, including a Chinese paper and an Iranian news agency, with its fake news articles.

In the case of New Nation, of which yours truly is an editor, its piece titled "Woman faints to unite Singapore" was written in the spirit of poking fun at the Singapore Democratic Party for claiming that their withdrawal from the Punggol East SMC by-election was guided by the principle of promoting opposition unity.

STOMP -- rather liberally -- took from the original and obviously fake New Nation article and published their piece under a separate headline titled "Woman who 'fainted' at nomination centre claims she did it to 'promote political unity'". (Note: The link is broken because it has been taken down.)

Seems the STOMP administrators failed to read between the lines there.

Also, unlike the naive Chinese paper that had the grace to credit The Onion, the Singapore report was not attributed back to its source.

Comments on STOMP.Still, people online caught them out with their pants down and the jibes against the portal came hard and fast.

stomp-comments

Online comments can be unforgiving. I can sense that these guys were holding back already.

Quiet removal

The fake news item stayed on STOMP for up to two hours. When it was eventually taken down, it went away quietly without even informing readers that a severe error in judgment had occurred.

This blunder comes in the wake of a controversy last June, when one of STOMP's staff put up a fake photo about an MRT train door opening, which sparked an investigation by the transport operator to assure the public everything was in order.

The staff who faked the piece earned a public rebuke and was subsequently fired.

Protocols were supposedly put in place by STOMP to prevent any such future errors.

Wonder what happened to that.

Belmont Lay is the editor of New Nation. He is very happy he got to troll STOMP. At least once.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends
    StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends

    Are you on the 4G or LTE mobile data network under StarHub? If so, you’ll have to start paying for the service.

  • Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes
    Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

    By Narae Kim JINDO South Korea (Reuters) - More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.