Most S’poreans against Internet censorship: survey

A survey on online commenting behaviour in Singapore has found that a majority of Singaporeans disagree with internet censorship.

Some 48 per cent of Singaporeans feel that alternative news sites such as The Online Citizen and Temasek Review Emeritus should be allowed to say what they like, despite being critical of the government, a study conducted by independent research firm Blackbox Research found.

A third of survey respondents felt such sites should be properly regulated alongside other news providers, while just one per cent said these sites should be banned.

Majority of respondents were also forgiving of racist comments, which are illegal if they promote feelings of ill-will and hostility among different races and classes in Singapore.

Furthermore, about three quarters of respondents felt there was no need for legal action to be taken against internet users who post racist comments online, with 59 per cent saying a formal warning should be issued for a first-time offence, and 16 per cent saying it would be sufficient to publicly shame them online.

David Black, managing director of Blackbox Research said, “On the issue of online racism, most Singaporeans appear to lean towards leniency for first time offenders. This might reflect a level of tolerance and a willingness to forgive those who have not thought through the consequences of their postings, at least the first time."

A 72 per cent majority of the survey respondents also said Singaporeans should be allowed to post comments online anonymously.

The study also found that while just 18 per cent of Singaporean internet users post comments online, 63 per cent of them use either an online nickname or do so anonymously.

In addition, its findings revealed that 58 per cent of comments posted online are critical either of a local company or of the government.

More than 2,300 Singaporeans aged 18 and above were interviewed over a three-month period from March till May this year for the study, and were asked about their online commenting habits, as well as their levels of readership and trust in various news media in Singapore.

Under these findings, 70 per cent of respondents read The Straits Times, Singapore’s national broadsheet, and 43 per cent trust it the most.

Yahoo! Singapore
came in second, with Today a close third, enjoying 43 and 42 per cent readership across the study participants. Trust in both is lower, however, with Yahoo! being trusted the most by 13 per cent of Singaporeans, and Today by 7 per cent.

National broadcaster Channel NewsAsia was rated most trusted by 13 per cent of Singaporeans as well, with 29 per cent of the survey’s respondents reading it at least once a week.

See the infographic summarising the study's findings here.