Website editor defies order to correct Facebook post
This is the second time the Government has invoked fake news law in four days
The States Times Review (STR), a website run from overseas, has been directed to correct false statements in a Facebook post.
This is the second time that the Government has exercised its powers under the new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), following its use on Monday in relation to a Facebook post by Progress Singapore Party member Brad Bowyer.
But the editor of STR has said it will not comply with the order.
STR is run by Mr Alex Tan Zhi Xiang, a 32-year-old Singaporean who lives abroad. He is the editor of various websites including Temasek Review News and Singapore Herald.
The latest direction, issued on the instruction of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, was made against an STR post on Nov 23 which made "false and baseless" claims.
One of the claims was that a person had been arrested by the police, and a person is being investigated, for revealing the religious affiliation of a People's Action Party member in a Nov 17 post on the "NUSSU - NUS Students United" (NSU) Facebook page, which spoofs the National University of Singapore Students Union.
The post also claimed that the page had been taken down by the Government.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said these claims were false and baseless.
"No one has been arrested or charged arising from the NSU post," the ministry said.
It added that Facebook had removed the NUSSU - NUS Students United page of its own accord, as the page violated its authenticity policies, and the "fake accounts" linked to the page breached Facebook's guidelines.
"The STR article also makes various other scurrilous allegations including on our elections process. These allegations are absurd," MHA said.
In a defiant post on the Facebook page uploaded yesterday morning, the editor of STR said: "We have not received any request from the Australian Federal Police or the authorities to take down any article.
"States Times Review and it's (sic) editor, who is now a citizen of Australia, will not comply with any order from a foreign government like North Korea or Singapore."
STR's Facebook page also posted the following update: "The Singapore government claimed that no arrest was made. This runs in contrary to the tip off we received."
MHA said this was not the first time a site run by Mr Tan had perpetuated falsehoods.
"This is not the first time that these websites, as well as STR, have perpetuated outright fabrications, such as misrepresenting Singapore's position in foreign relations with other countries and casting aspersions on the integrity of public institutions," said MHA.
It added that the websites have breached the Info-communications Media Development Authority's Internet Code of Practice on the grounds of public interest, and have previously been blocked by IMDA.