- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2019

Facebook on Friday faced pressure from the government of Singapore to issue a correction to users who saw a recent post on the social networking service that irked authorities.

The office in charge of enforcing Singapore’s newly enacted “fake news” laws said in a statement that it was instructed by the Asian city-state’s Minister for Home Affairs to issue a “Targeted Correction Direction” to Facebook over the post, which would effectively require the company to rectify a user’s content.

“A Targeted Correction Direction is a Direction issued to an Internet Intermediary … whose service was used to communicate a falsehood that affects the public interest,” the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office said in the statement.

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“The Direction requires [Facebook] to communicate a correction notice by means of its service to all users in Singapore who access the falsehood through its service,” the office explained. “This is so that users who see the falsehood on a platform also see the correction notice on that platform.”

Facebook confirmed the request was being reviewed but declined to comment further.

The post in question was published last Saturday on the “States Times Review” Facebook page, an account run by political activist Alex Tan Zhixiang. The POFMA Office asked Facebook to intervene after Mr. Tan ignored an earlier request to issue a correction by himself, its statement said.

Mr. Tan has since reposted the article on several other platforms — namely Twitter, LinkedIn and a Google Documents text file — and “called for the Singapore dictatorship to issue POFMA orders to the social media companies,” the States Times Review said in a subsequent Facebook post later Friday.

Passed by Singapore’s Parliament in May, the POFMA took effect last month in spite of concerns raised by tech companies and human rights groups over concerns including its potential negative impact on internet freedoms. It essentially prohibits communicating false statements that are also likely to be prejudicial to the security of Singapore or its functioning, including content published in or beyond its borders.

The order to Facebook is the third issued by the POFMA office in a week, Bloomberg reported Friday.

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