Govt orders Facebook to disable S’pore users’ access to States Times Review page

It repeatedly refused to comply with POFMA Directions.

Joshua Lee | February 18, 02:29 am


It appears the days of States Times Review Facebook page are numbered.

Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran has directed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to order Facebook to disable Singapore users’ access to the STR Facebook page.

Repeatedly conveyed falsehoods

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said in a press release on Feb. 17 that the STR Facebook page has “repeatedly conveyed falsehoods” and refused to comply with the government’s orders to take down said falsehoods.

MCI wrote:

“After being served a Declaration on Feb. 15, 2020 notifying that it was declared a Declared Online Location (DOL), the STR Facebook page has not carried the required notice stating that it has been declared a DOL, which serves to warn visitors of the previous falsehoods that this page communicated.”

As a Declared Online Location, STR has to warn its visitors that it has a history of communicating falsehoods.

The declaration also makes it an offence for the owner of STR, Alex Tan, to derive benefit from operating its Facebook page.

It also prohibits any form of financial support that would go towards supporting, helping or promoting the page in communicating falsehoods.

Not complied with three POFMA Directions

The ministry also pointed out that STR has been a recipient of three POFMA Directions from November 2019 to Feb. 15, 2020 — which Tan has not complied with:

MCI said:

“In the past weeks, the STR Facebook page has also spread falsehoods regarding the Covid-19 virus situation in Singapore. The STR Facebook page is linked to other websites that are also operated by Mr Tan, which derive monetary benefits from these falsehoods at the expense of Singaporeans and our society.”

Some of the things that Tan published regarding the ongoing Covid-19 situation in Singapore include claims that the government is unable to trace the source of infection for any of the Covid-19 cases and that the government is paying “China workers” on Leaves of Absence S$100 a day.

The Singapore government has clarified that sources of infection for most of the Covid-19 cases in Singapore have been traced to either travel history to mainland China or links with previously announced cases.

It also clarified that it is the employers of workers on Leaves of Absence who receive the S$100 support and this covers all workers regardless of nationality.

You can read the rest of the government’s clarifications here.

Top image via STR/Facebook

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