POFMA temporary exemptions to be lifted, move 'critical' given evolving coronavirus situation: MCI

POFMA temporary exemptions to be lifted, move 'critical' given evolving coronavirus situation: MCI

People wearing protective face mask at Orchard Road
A man is  seen wearing a protective face mask and gloves at Orchard Road, Singapore on Jan 28. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Search, Baidu and HardwareZone will no longer be exempted from general correction directions (GCD) under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), said the Ministry of Communications and Information on Thursday (Jan 30). 

Several Internet intermediaries were temporarily exempted from having to comply with correction direction requirements when POFMA came into effect on October 2019.

MCI said the exemptions will be lifted on Friday “given the evolving situation with the Wuhan coronavirus”.

READ: Wuhan virus outbreak - At a glance

“The Government is prepared to use all tools at its disposal to provide the public with accurate and up-to-date information, and to deal with falsehoods that may cause panic or confusion,” MCI said in a statement.

A general correction direction can be issued to a media outlet, social networking platform, search engine or other Internet service providers.

When Internet services are given a GCD, they are required to disseminate a correction notice in Singapore using their service to all their end‑users or users specified by the direction.

On Tuesday, the POFMA Office issued a targeted correction direction to Facebook over two posts on the platform that claimed that Woodlands MRT station was closed due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

A day earlier another correction notice was issued to SPH Magazines over a post on its HardwareZone Forum, which claimed that a person had died in Singapore from the Wuhan virus.

“With the lifting of this exemption, Facebook, Google Search, Baidu, Twitter, and HardwareZone will be required to carry GCDs if the Act is applied to them," said MCI.

“We have worked closely with the relevant technology companies, and appreciate the industry’s support and cooperation in our national response to this challenging situation.”

The coronavirus, which originated from the city of Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province, has spread across the world with 13 confirmed cases in Singapore as of Thursday.

Thailand on Thursday arrested two people for posting "fake news" about the virus.

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Source: CNA/ec(hs)

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