Facebook has been issued a directive in Singapore to publish a correction on a post, after the author refuses to comply with an earlier directive to do so. This is the first time a foreign media platform has received a directive under the country’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) since the law came into effect last month.
The POFMA Office, which administers the Act, said in a statement Friday that the Minister for Home Affairs ordered the Targeted Correction Direction to be issued, following Alex Tan Zhi Xiang’s non-compliance with a previous Correction Direction handed out the previous day.
Correction Direction orders are issued to a person the government deemed to have communicated a falsehood. Recipients are required to publish a correction notice, providing access to the correct facts. They are not required to take down their post or make edits to their content. Such directives also do not carry criminal sanctions.
Tan had been directed to carry a correction notice in full at the top of his November 23 post on Facebook, on which he ran the States Times Review page. The POFMA Office said it had begun investigations against Tan over his failure to comply with the directive.
The office said he falsely stated that two critics of the government had been arrested and had made “scurrilous accusations” against Singapore’s Elections Department, Prime Minister, and election process.
On his part, Tan appears to remain defiant, stating in a post on Facebook that “there shall be no compliance” and he was “happy to go to 10 years’ jail” with regards to “the POFMA censorship”.
Facebook confirmed it received the correction direction and was reviewing it.
The Singapore government earlier this week ordered a correction directive against Singapore opposition politician Brad Bowyer over a Facebook post in which he said, amongst others, that the government was involved in decisions made by two state-owned investment firms.
The POFMA was passed in May, following a brief public debate, and kicked in on October 2 with details on how appeals against directives could be made. The bill had passed amidst strong criticism that it gave the government far-reaching powers over online communication and would be used to stifle free speech as well as quell political opponents.
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