Wuhan coronavirus: Singapore to step up efforts to debunk falsehoods, provide accurate info

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor

SINGAPORE — Singapore has taken swift action against the spreading of falsehoods during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, and will intensify efforts to provide its citizens with up-to-date and accurate information on the coronavirus outbreak situation in Singapore.

S Iswaran, Minister for Communication and Information, added during the multi-ministry taskforce media conference on Monday (27 January) that the Ministry of Health (MOH) had sent a General Correction Direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to correct a falsehood on the HardwareZone Forum.

Erroneous post of death in Singapore

The online forum had put up a post claiming erroneously that there has been a death in Singapore as a result of the coronavirus. Although the post was subsequently taken down, more than 4,600 unique visitors have viewed the post in the 2.5 hours which it was up online.

“Some who viewed the post would have shared it with others and been misled by it,” Iswaran said.

“We must take swift action against such falsehoods. Otherwise, there is a grave risk that they will spread and cause panic among our citizens.

“This is why we have POFMA, and we will not hesitate to use the powers under the law to take action against any party that spreads such falsehoods.”

S Iswaran, Minister for Communication and Information, during the multi-ministry taskforce media conference. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)

Sharing info through multiple channels

The Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI) and MOH are working closely to share important public education information through multiple channels.

These include: the MOH website, Gov.Sg website, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Factually.

In particular, MCI is extending the use of the Gov.Sg WhatsApp group to disseminate updates and address falsehoods and misinformation on the Wuhan coronavirus. Since Sunday, more than 56,000 new users have signed up for the service.

The ministry is also utilising the broadcast media and digital display panel in HDB estates to reach out to all segments of the society.

“Please rely on information only on trusted sources. Verify the information you get from various sources before sharing it with family and friends,” Iswaran said, adding the any falsehoods should be reported to info@pofmaoffice.gov.sg.


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