The Media Literacy Council (MLC), a Government-linked body, has apologised after a social media post it published on the topic of fake news was called out for being “fake news” itself.
The organisation published a post on its social media channels that highlighted six “types of fake news”. These were false context, imposter content, manipulated content, misleading content, clickbait, and satire.
The MLC swiftly drew intense backlash for branding satire – a literary genre – as a type of fake news. Netizens accused the MLC of spreading misleading information and asked the body to retract the post and issue an apology.
The MLC post remained on social media for days, even as criticism against the Government-backed source mounted. Yesterday (8 Sept), the MLC finally apologised over the matter and acknowledged that the social media post had broadcast the wrong impression that satire is a type of fake news.
Asserting that this was not the intent of the post, the MLC said: “We are sorry for the confusion and will review our material.
“The aim of the post was to raise awareness among youths and the general public about the need to be aware of the ways in which misinformation or fake news can be spread, and encourage readers to understand the context in which information is presented.
“This is part of MLC’s work to encourage online discernment. Thank you to the readers who brought this to our attention.”
In a Facebook comment, the MLC also admitted that Singapore’s anti-fake news law – the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) – does not extend to opinions, criticisms, satire or parody.
POFMA was passed in Parliament on 8 May 2019, after a fierce debate that took place over two days.
The new law, which provides the government with powers to act against online falsehoods to protect public interest, gives ministers the authority to determine what is an online falsehood and whether to take action.
The vote to pass the bill was not unanimous – in the final division, all nine Workers’ Party (WP) parliamentarians rejected the bill while Nominated MPs (NMPs) Anthea Ong, Walter Theseira and Irene Quay abstained from voting. 72 MPs supported the bill.
The Government has stated that POFMA is intended to act against statements of fact and will not pertain to opinions, criticisms, satire or parody.
In May, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam added that the law will not be used against Singaporeans who unknowingly share fake news in good faith. In a video interview with Vulcan Post, the Minister confirmed that there is “no criminal liability” and “no civil liability” for those who share fake news “in good faith”.
He said: “If you receive something and in good faith you forward it, as most people do, you share, you like it – no problem. There is no criminal liability, there is no civil liability. At most, you will receive a correction.
“So you don’t even need to worry about jail and so on. That is for people who are sitting there, actively creating the false news. Sometimes to make money, sometimes to create trouble, you put out a falsehood – those are the only people, most people are not like that.” -/TISG