Facebook apologises after links to The Independent Singapore blocked 'in error'

Facebook apologises after links to The Independent Singapore blocked 'in error'

The Independent Singapore Facebook photo
The Independent Singapore's Facebook cover photo. (Photo: Facebook / The Independent Singapore)

SINGAPORE: Facebook apologised on Friday (Nov 8) after links to the website of media company The Independent Singapore were blocked, saying that it was "an error" and "not an attempt to silence political speech".

The apology comes a day after The Independent Singapore said on Thursday that Facebook had "arbitrarily removed" all of their posts as of 9am that day, and cited concerns of "a wider block on political material".

The posts had been flagged as "spam" or "violating community standards" but no other reason or notice was given, said The Independent Singapore.

The content blocked included photos of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's younger brother Mr Lee Hsien Yang as well as the Progress Singapore Party's secretary-general Dr Tan Cheng Bock, it said.

The Independent Singapore also claimed that Facebook had rejected a political advertisement by Transitioning.org, which is run by activist Gilbert Goh.

"We suspect this could be a wider block on political material and certainly not an isolated case, but are quite mystified having heard no word whatsoever from Facebook," it said.

Publisher Kumaran Pillai on Thursday asked for readers' patience as they tried to sort out the issue.

"We are currently facing some issues on our TISG (The Independent Singapore) Facebook page as of this morning. All our content from the website has been taken down and I have queried FB on this," he wrote on his own Facebook page.

"The blocks were enforced at about 9am today. We were able to post content before that," he added. "Please bear with us while we sort this out with FB."

Facebook posts started appearing again on The Independent Singapore's page at about 8.10pm on Thursday.

In response to CNA's queries, Facebook said on Friday that the incident was a "mistake" and that the links to The Independent Singapore website were blocked "in error".

"This was a mistake on our part and not an attempt to silence any political speech, which we work hard to defend. Links to The Independent Singapore website were blocked from Facebook in error, and we have rectified this issue," said a Facebook spokesperson.

"We apologise for the inconvenience caused."

Source: CNA/nc(aj)

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