A group of Facebook administrators apologised on Tuesday (13 February) for a doctored newspaper headline on the City Harvest Church (CHC) case published on their platform.
The apology comes as the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said in a statement that the administrators – Ong Sooi Eng, Lee Leng Kok, Ng Kwee Lay, Tan Siew Tee and Yap Tze Kiat – have committed contempt of court for allowing a post containing the headline to be published.
The original headline of the report by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao said an archaic law saved the CHC founder Kong Hee and five other ex-church leaders from stiffer jail terms but the doctored headline said a People’s Action Party lawyer saved them.
The man who created the fake headline, Neo Aik Chau, apologised twice last week for his post and undertook not to repeat his actions in the future.
In its statement, the AGC said, “The Facebook post made false and baseless allegations and in doing so, had impugned the impartiality and integrity of the Court of Appeal and posed a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined.”
The AGC wrote to the administrators last Friday (9 February) to state that they had omitted to remove the post from their Facebook group between 2 February and 5 February 2018 despite being aware of its publication.
Administrators of Facebook groups, or any other online platforms, are responsible for the content published on their platforms, the AGC said. As such, they are not immune from liability even though they are not the authors of the offending content, it added.
The administrators said in their apology that they have ensured the post had been removed from their Facebook group, Facebook accounts and all other social media accounts and platforms. They also undertook not to allow any posts that amount to contempt of court to be published on their Facebook group, or do any other act that amounts to contempt of court.