SINGAPORE — On Wednesday (Mar 18), the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office released a statement issuing correction directions to three individuals for posting and sharing false statements on Facebook about the dinner event at Safra Jurong, one of the clusters identified in the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore.
Three persons—namely opposition member Lim Tean and other social media users Henryace Ace and Sebastian Ying—had shared several false statements on Facebook alleging that the People’s Association (PA), Residents’ Committees (RCs), or both, were involved in organising the Safra Jurong dinner on Feb 15. The dinner at Joy Garden Restaurant in Safra Jurong has become the largest cluster of local coronavirus spread, with 47 confirmed cases linked to it as of Tuesday (Mar 18).
The POFMA Office said that Minister-in-charge of the People’s Association (PA), Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, instructed them to issue the correction directions to the three persons found to be spreading false news.
Members of the public are being directed to an official article issued by the government on the website Factually—“Corrections and Clarifications regarding falsehoods that dinner event at Safra Jurong was organised by People’s Association”.
The article states:
“Between 8 March 2020 and 17 March 2020, there were posts by several Facebook users claiming that the People’s Association (PA) and/or the Residents’ Committees (RCs) were involved in the organisation of the dinner event at SAFRA Jurong on 15 February 2020 which a COVID-19 cluster was later traced to.
“This is entirely false. PA and the RCs were not involved in the organisation of the dinner event at SAFRA Jurong on 15 February 2020, and were not in a position to cancel it. PA and the RCs also did not fund nor publicise the dinner event. The event was a private dinner function organised by a singing instructor for members of her singing groups.”
When issued a correction direction by POFMA, the recipient must publish a correction notice on the false statements that they originally shared or posted and provide access to the correct facts. The correction notice does not impose criminal sanctions on the recipient.
They also have to clearly state that the statement they issued was false, and note where the false statement can be located. They are not mandated to remove, take their post down or make edits to their content.
Since being issued the POFMA correction directions, two of the three recipients have complied with the directive and have issued corrective notices.
Mr Lim posted the correction notice issued by the POFMA office on his original post, which was dated Monday (Mar 16):
“There is a correction referring to paragraph 6 of my post below about the SAFRA event.
This post contains falsehoods. PA and the Residents’ Committees (RCs) were not involved in the organisation of the function held at SAFRA Jurong on 15 February 2020. For the facts click here https://www.gov.sg/…/factually-clarifications-on-falsehoods…,” wrote Mr Lim.
After posting the correction notice, he also wrote the following:
“I’ve kept the article in tact below so you can read in full. It is Chan Chun Sing who has decided to use POFMA to stifle discussion on why the PA (of which he is the minister in charge) continued to allow PA events and not enforce social distancing. I think it is a disgusting example of poor leadership and weak management on his behalf and he should serve Singaporeans with an apology and his resignation,” Mr Lim added.
There is a correction referring to paragraph 6 of my post below about the SAFRA event.CORRECTION NOTICE:This post…
Henryace Ace, the other Facebook user issued a POFMA correction direction, posted an “important retraction” on Wednesday (Mar 18):
“I recently posted on FB that PA organised an event at Safra Jurong linked to new virus cases. I was terribly mistaken and now understand this to be FALSE, so I unreservedly apologise,” he wrote, adding, “I have deleted the offending post.”
IMPORTANT retraction:I recently posted on FB that PA organised an event at Safra Jurong linked to new virus cases.I…
Sebastian Ying, the third individual given a correction direction, is no longer on Facebook. As of Wednesday afternoon, Mr Ying’s Facebook page could not be found. /TISGFollow us on Social Media
Send in your scoops to email@example.com