Singapore – On Apr 1 (Mon), new legislation to manage fake news will be introduced in Parliament, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill was announced by PM Lee at a gala dinner celebrating the 20th anniversary of Channel News Asia (CNA).
The bill was proposed to the government by the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods. It will provide the government with power to hold online news outlets and platforms responsible for any deliberate online falsehoods they share.
“This includes requiring them to show corrections or display warnings about online falsehoods so that readers or viewers can see all sides and make up their own minds about the matter,” said PM Lee.
“In extreme and urgent cases, the legislation will also require online news sources to take down fake news before irreparable damage is done,” he added.
No shortage of fake news
Today, the number of people, groups and platforms who propagate fake news for reasons such as financial gain or instigation of social conflict is proliferating. Platforms such as social media websites mix misinformation with factual stories and are “unwilling or unable” to filter out the misleading information, according to the prime minister.
PM Lee explained that Singapore serves as a perfect candidate for these types of coordinated campaigns to flourish because its people are multiracial while English is spoken widely. Another factor is the high penetration rate for mobile and Internet usage in the island state.
“If we don’t protect ourselves, hostile parties will find it a simple matter to turn different groups against one another and cause disorder in our society,” he said.
Citizenry effort is needed
To supplement legislation, the prime minister is calling for citizens to be the front line of defence: “It has to be supplemented by a citizenry effort, alert to the problem of fake news, well informed of what is happening in the world around them and provided with the means to make sound assessments of what they read and hear.
“We have strict laws against crime, which are strictly enforced, but each of us still needs to take our own precautions and be the front line of defence working with the police to keep Singapore crime-free.”
How to spot fake news
According to gov.sg, 50 percent of the respondents for a 2018 REACH poll were confident in their ability to recognize fake news while 77 percent came across fake news occasionally through WhatsApp and Facebook.
The following are some simple ways to spot fake news:
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