SINGAPORE: News site Gutzy Asia has been deemed as a “Declared Online Locations” (DOLs) under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019 (POFMA) on Tuesday (June 11) due to multiple online falsehoods.

Among other sanctions, it means that Gutzy Asia will not be allowed to receive financial benefits for two years.

The POFMA declaration was issued by Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo and will be in effect from June 12, 2024, to June 12, 2026.

It includes the Gutzy Asia website and its social media pages on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter). These have been deemed as “Declared Online Locations” (DOLs) “following multiple falsehoods communicated on the online locations.”

Gutzy Asia was previously known as The Online Citizen Asia, whose site and social media pages were also designated as DOLs on July 21, 2023, and received the same sanctions.

For two years, Gutzy Asia will be required to post a notice on its site and social media pages saying that these have all been declared as DOLs.

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The notice serves to warn visitors on the online pages that the company “has a history of communicating falsehoods on these online locations.”

Screengrab/pofmaoffice.gov.sg

While the pages are allowed to operate, POFMA’s statutory requirements state that individuals may not derive financial benefit from operating a DOL, “thereby preventing operators of DOLs from profiting from the communication of falsehoods.”

Under the law, service providers and digital advertising intermediaries must ensure that paid content is not communicated in Singapore.

Additionally, other people and companies should not provide financial support to the DOLs if they know or have reason to believe that they would support, help, or promote the communication of falsehoods in Singapore.

“Members of the public are advised to be alert to Gutzy’s history of communicating misinformation on these online locations and to fact-check information published at these DOLs,” the declaration added.

Under POFMA, a site or page online may be declared a DOL if it carries three or more different false statements of fact and if at least three of these are communicated within six months before the date of the Declaration.

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In Gutzy Asia’s case, the Taiwan-based media company reported on Oct 16, 2023, that the woman who had fallen off a building in Yishun was a Filipino worker when she had been, in actuality, a Singaporean.

On Feb 15, 2024, a report about a couple living on the West Coast carrying falsehoods was published on the site.

On Feb 18, 2024, Gutzy Asia carried the falsehood that the Singapore Land Authority had mismanaged state properties by charging Minister K Shanmugam and Minister Vivian Balakrishnan rent at below market value for 26 and 31 Ridout Road and giving them preferential tenancy terms. /TISG

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