POFMA Office directed to order Facebook to disable access to States Times Review

PHOTO: POFMA Office

SINGAPORE — Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Monday (17 February) directed the POFMA Office to order Facebook to disable access for Singapore users to the States Times Review (STR) Facebook page. 

The order came after STR failed to comply with directions under the Protection against Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) regarding STR’s false posts on the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak and others.

On Saturday, Iswaran designated the STR Facebook page a Declared Online Location (DOL) under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

Under the declaration, the page is required to carry a notice stating that it has been declared a DOL. Visitors to the page will be warned that the page has a history of communicating falsehoods.

The declaration will make it an offence for Alex Tan, owner of the STR Facebook page, to derive benefit from operating the page. It also bans any kind of financial support for the page for purposes of promoting its communication of falsehoods.

This is the first time a DOL, which came into effect on Sunday, had been issued by the POFMA office.

In its statement on Monday, the Ministry for Communications and Information said, “The STR Facebook page has repeatedly conveyed falsehoods and not complied with any of the POFMA Directions that it has been served with. After being served a Declaration on 15 Feb 2020 notifying that it was declared a Declared Online Location (DOL), the STR Facebook page has not carried the required notice stating that it has been declared a DOL, which serves to warn visitors of the previous falsehoods that this page communicated.”

The STR Facebook page has repeatedly conveyed numerous falsehoods, three of which were the subjects of POFMA directions from November 2019.

The latest instance occurred on Friday, when Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong issued a correction direction to STR Facebook page over a post on Thursday, which had numerous falsehoods regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Singapore such as on the government’s contact tracing efforts and its advice on face masks.

MCI said for facts of the case, the public can refer to the Factually article, “Corrections And Clarifications Regarding Falsehoods Published By States Times Review on the COVID-19 Situation” 

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