Facebook removes, then reinstates 'We are against Pinkdot in Singapore' group

Attendees at the 2014 Pink Dot rally. (Reuters file photo)
Attendees at the 2014 Pink Dot rally. (Reuters file photo)

The We are against Pinkdot in Singapore (WAAPD) Facebook group that was briefly taken down by the social media platform’s administrators on Wednesday (9 May) has been reinstated.

Roy Tan, 60, a retired healthcare practitioner, had uploaded a screenshot of Facebook’s response, sent to him by a friend, at around 5pm on Wednesday.

In Tan’s post, Facebook said that WAAPD had violated the platform’s community standards and was subsequently removed. “We’ve let WAAPD know that their group has been removed, but not who reported it,” the statement added.

Tan, who himself reported the group for displaying hate speech around two years ago, told Yahoo News Singapore that the recipient of the response had made a similar report recently.

The public group was observed to be reinstated less than a day later, with Facebook issuing an apology for having erroneously removed it.

At around 1.20am on Thursday, WAAPD moderator and administrator Azman Ivan Tan posted a screenshot of a warning issued by Facebook, in which the company said it had removed the group “in error”.

“We are sorry for the error, and have restored your group,” said the statement.

Along with the screenshot, Azman called for the WAAPD group, consisting of over 6,700 members, to “follow rules” and “be civil”.

“Please check your postings and be nice. Discuss (based) on facts and not emotions”, he added. “Let this be a lesson/reminder that we need to be the bigger ones. Be the nicer ones.”

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed with Yahoo News Singapore on Thursday that the WAAPD group had been removed erroneously. The spokesperson declined to reveal when the group was removed and reinstated.

“There was content in the group which violated our policies, which we have removed, but we should not have removed the group in its entirety,” said the spokesperson, who also declined to reveal the number of reports made against the group since its creation about five years ago.

(PHOTO: Facebook / Azman Ivan Tan, We are Against Pinkdot in Singapore)
(PHOTO: Facebook / Azman Ivan Tan, We are Against Pinkdot in Singapore)

According to Facebook’s website, its policies on community standards include the removal of content or groups that promote violence and criminal behaviour, objectionable content – such as hate speech – as well as violate someone else’s intellectual property rights.

The consequences of breaching these policies may vary depending on the severity of the breach and a person or group’s history on Facebook.

The WAAPD describes itself as “a public policy discussion platform on the Pink Dot movement in Singapore” that “stands against the normalisation of homosexuality within Singaporean society”.

Pink Dot Singapore is a non-profit movement that organises an annual rally, of the same name, held in support of Singapore’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The event has been held since 2009 and will mark its 10th edition this July.

Last year, WAAPD attracted public attention for criticising and making police reports against the Cathay Organisation for putting up an advertisement at the Cathay Cineleisure mall promoting the Pink Dot rally.

The organisation was subsequently requested by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore to remove a phrase in the advertisement that read, “Supporting the freedom to love.”

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to Azman Ivan Tan for comments.

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