SINGAPORE — Distribution of the Media Literacy Council’s (MLC) "Get Smart with Sherlock" booklet, which sparked controversy for listing satire as a type of fake news, was ceased in August.
In a written response to two parliamentary questions on Monday (7 Monday), Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said that 29 schools had requested copies of the booklet since it was first offered as a resource for parents to use with their children. A total of 32,000 copies were subsequently provided for the schools.
According to Iswaran, the “Get Smart with Sherlock" guide was meant to serve as a resource for the public to understand the context and various forms of online content. “Advisories have since been sent to the 29 schools to reiterate the intent for the guide to be used by parents,” he said in the written reply.
Elaborating on the booklet’s purpose, Iswaran said that it was developed as part of the MLC’s public education campaign.
“The guide is a resource for the general adult public to understand the context and various forms of online content. The material was tested with demographically representative focus groups, and refined to ensure its suitability,” he added.
Iswaran noted that the MLC regularly reviews its materials and processes in consultation with his ministry and other stakeholders.
The booklet gained controversy last month when netizens criticised the apparent inclusion of satire as a form of fake news. Other forms listed by MLC include manipulated content and clickbait.
Prior to the uproar over the booklet, the MLC also apologised for a posting an infographic on its Facebook page, which also implied that satire is a form of fake news. “We acknowledge that the post and infographic gave the wrong impression that satire was fake news, which was not the intent. We are sorry for the confusion and will review our material,” said the MLC in its apology.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam also commented on the issue, saying that it was “erroneous” for the MLC to suggest that satire is tantamount to fake news.
“I can understand what the MLC was trying to say, but either they made a mistake or it didn’t get said accurately,” he said.
The MLC was formed in 2012 to spearhead public education on media literacy and cyber wellness.