SINGAPORE: Local online media publication Jom has expressed its disagreement with a court ruling after it lost an appeal against a correction order imposed under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).
On July 16th, Jom received POFMA orders alleging that the publication had made three false statements in its journalism, specifically pertaining to the Ridout Road bungalow leases and Instagram’s geo-blocking of Charles Yeo.
The first of these alleged false statements revolved around a claim that Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean had only emphasized the importance of observing the spirit rather than the letter of the Code when it comes to the ministerial code of conduct.
The second statement in question is an alleged assertion that the Singapore Land Authority had expended “more than $1 million on the renovation for 26 Ridout Road and 31 Ridout Road because the Ministers were to be the tenants.” The final statement is a claim that “the Government caused Instagram to geo-block a post by Charles Yeo.”
Justice Valerie Thean, in her judgment, upheld the POFMA orders, concurring with the POFMA office’s assertion that Jom had indeed made these three false statements.
In her ruling, Justice Thean noted, “In my view, what the article does, by a series of speculative associations, is set out a case that the government caused Instagram to geo-block Charles Yeo’s post…while this is not spelt out literally, the whole import of the article leads to an [aforementioned] assertion…”
Following the court’s ruling, Jom issued a statement on its website and Facebook, disagreeing with the ruling and maintaining that it did not make the alleged falsehoods.
Jom said: “We respectfully have a different take. Journalists, in light of limited information, have to posit certain lines of queries to discuss the issue. Jom’s position throughout has been consistent: we agree that the three statements are false but that we neither intended to make them nor indeed did make them.”