Singapore strikes its first official blows against fake news

“FACEBOOK IS LEGALLY required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information,” reads the message, which links to a government website. It appeared on November 30th on a post published by the States Times Review, a blog which delights in hectoring the Singaporean authorities. The post alleged that the country’s elections are rigged and that the next one could “possibly turn Singapore into a Christian state”.

The idea that the ruling People’s Action Party is trying to turn Singapore into a theocracy is absurd—even “scurrilous”, as the government put it. (The contention that it rigs elections is more defensible, although it does so not by stuffing ballot boxes, but by making life difficult for its critics and threatening adverse consequences for areas that vote for the opposition. It has won every general election in the past 60 years.)

The government, deeming the post false, asked its founder, who lives in Australia, to publish a correction notice under the Prevention from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), which came into effect in October. He refused, noting that the Australian authorities had not asked him to remove anything, but thanked the Singaporean government for boosting traffic to his site. Officials had more luck with Facebook, which made the notice visible to users...

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