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POFMA correction direction issued to Facebook for post falsely claiming 3-year-old died from COVID-19

POFMA correction direction issued to Facebook for post falsely claiming 3-year-old died from COVID-19

A general view of KK Women's and Children's Hospital. (Photo: Facebook/KK Women's and Children's Hospital)

SINGAPORE: A correction direction has been issued to Facebook over a post that falsely claimed a three-year-old girl had died from COVID-19 at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and that the death was not reported. 

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to issue the correction direction to Facebook, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sunday (Aug 15). 

Facebook is required to carry the correction notice to all end-users in Singapore who use the platform. 

"The Government takes a serious view of the deliberate communication of these false statements, and criminal investigations under POFMA will be conducted," said MOH.

A prompt on Facebook's news feed seen on Aug 15, 2021, visible only to Singapore users.

On Monday, Facebook said that it received a direction from the Government in relation to "a claim they determined contains false information".

"We've carefully reviewed the direction and are legally compelled to issue a correction notice from the Singapore Government to all people using Facebook in Singapore," the company said in response to CNA's queries sent on Sunday.

A temporary prompt has been issued via Facebook's news feed to people in Singapore from Sunday.

The correction direction comes after MOH on Saturday issued a statement on Facebook regarding the post and said that the claims were "a total fabrication". 

“This is completely untrue and a total fabrication ... We urge the public to refrain from spreading rumours and misinformation," said the Health Ministry. 

The Facebook post, by a user named Eileen Loh, has been circulating online claiming that a three-year-old had died from COVID-19 at KKH. The post had been shared close to 200 times as of Saturday evening.­

As of Saturday, there has not been any case of any child that has died from COVID-19 at KKH or any other hospital in Singapore, said the Ministry of Health on Sunday. 

The post also claimed that the "Delta Plus" variant of COVID-19 is now in Singapore, said MOH. 

"As of Aug 14, MOH has not identified the 'Delta Plus' variant in any of Singapore’s known COVID-19 cases," it added. 

The ministry also urged members of the public to not spread unsubstantiated information, which may cause public alarm. The public can also visit www.moh.gov.sg for latest updates on the COVID-19 situation. 

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Source: CNA/lk(ta)

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