Singaporean govt. orders Facebook to block users’ access to Singapore States Times, owner pages


Using its controversial Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), Singaporean authorities have ordered Facebook to restrict users’ access to the pages of Singapore States Times and its owner Alex Tan.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) on Friday said pages from Singapore States Times have “repeatedly conveyed falsehoods”, and have not complied with any of the directions from the POFMA Office.

Using POFMA, the authorities have the power to issue a Correction Direction against someone who it deems have published falsehood and require that person to publish the official government facts alongside the falsehood.

Singapore States Times and Mr. Tan were recently issued several Correction Directions over posts on the COVID-19 situation here.

Earlier this month, they were issued a Correction Direction over an online post alleging COVID-19 transmission in schools. In April, a correction direction was issued over a post about the Ministry of Health’s reporting of coronavirus cases.

Both Facebook pages were on Wednesday named Declared Online Locations (DOL), meaning they are required to publish a notice stating that they have been declared DOLs. Visitors to the pages will be warned that the pages have a history of communicating falsehoods.

“They have not complied with the requirement to publish a notice stating that they have been declared DOLs by the stipulated deadline,” said MCI in its press release.

“This is the second time that a Disabling Order is issued against Facebook pages operated by Tan, following his non-compliance with the DOL Declarations served.”

The first involved the States Times Review Facebook page. It had failed to comply with correction directions it had been served and was designated a DOL in February before Facebook was asked to disable Singapore users’ access to the page.

According to the POFMA Office’s website, DOLs can include websites and web pages, and are defined as “online locations that have carried three or more different online falsehoods that are the subject of active directions issued by POFMA Office”.

“A Declared Online Location will not be allowed to profit from spreading falsehoods in Singapore,” the website stated, adding that the public should “exercise caution and do additional fact-checking” if accessing these sites for information. (Source: CNA)