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Government orders Facebook to disable Singapore users' access to National Times Singapore Facebook page

Government orders Facebook to disable Singapore users' access to National Times Singapore Facebook page

A screengrab of the National Times Singapore Facebook page, May 27, 2020.

SINGAPORE: Facebook has been ordered to disable Singapore users' access to the National Times Singapore (NTS) Facebook page. 

The page has "communicated at least three false statements of fact", said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) on Saturday (May 30). 

Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran directed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to order the social media platform to restrict access for users from Singapore. 

READ: National Times Singapore Facebook page to be designated as Declared Online Location under POFMA

The Facebook page, operated by Alex Tan, has not complied with the POFMA direction that it was served with, for a post published on May 15. 

According to Government website Factually, the post made "several false and misleading statements", such as: 

  • “Every criticism has been outlawed by the Singapore government through its new POFMA legislation, where the politicians in power get to decide what is truth.”
  • The Minister for Law had issued a POFMA direction to ban a video.

Tan, who claims to be an Australian citizen living in Australia, also "makes serious and baseless allegations about Singapore’s judiciary being biased", added MCI in the Factually page. 

"These have been brought to the attention of the Attorney-General’s Chambers for assessment on whether the allegations are in contempt of court."

The page was designated as a Declared Online Location (DOL), with effect from Friday.

Under the declaration, the page is required to carry a notice stating that it has been declared a DOL. Visitors will also be warned that the page has a history of communicating falsehoods. 

"The page has not complied with the declaration’s requirement to publish a notice stating that it has been declared a DOL," said MCI on Saturday. 

READ: POFMA: Singapore States Times, Alex Tan's Facebook pages to be Declared Online Locations after COVID-19 'falsehoods'

"The notice serves to warn visitors to the NTS Facebook page of the falsehoods that the page has communicated," added the ministry. 

This is the fourth Facebook page operated by Tan to be subject to a disabling order. 

The Facebook pages of the States Times Review (STR), as well as Singapore States Times (SST) and Tan's own page were declared DOLs on Feb 16 and May 6 respectively. 

All three pages did not comply with the declarations and the POFMA Office later issued orders to Facebook to disable access for Singapore users to all three pages. 

Source: CNA/ad


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