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Government orders Facebook to disable Singapore users' access to States Times Review page

Government orders Facebook to disable Singapore users' access to States Times Review page

File photo of a Facebook logo. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SINGAPORE: Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran has directed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to order Facebook to disable Singapore users' access to the States Times Review (STR) Facebook page.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) announced this in a media release on Monday (Feb 17), after the STR Facebook page failed to comply with correction directions it had been served with.

"The STR Facebook page has repeatedly conveyed falsehoods and not complied with any of the POFMA directions that it has been served with," said MCI.

STR's Facebook page was designated as a Declared Online Location on Saturday, a day after Health Minister Gan Kim Yong ordered that the page be served a correction direction for a post containing claims about the COVID-19 situation that were "entirely untrue".

"The STR Facebook page has not carried the required notice stating that it has been declared a DOL, which serves to warn visitors of the previous falsehoods that this page communicated," MCI said on Monday.

READ: 'Steady wave' of fake news on coronavirus in the region: Facebook fact-checker

According to the website of the POFMA Office, DOLs can include websites and webpages, and are defined as "online locations that have carried three or more different online falsehoods that are the subject of active directions issued by POFMA Office".

"A Declared Online Location will not be allowed to profit from spreading falsehoods in Singapore," the website stated, adding that the public should "exercise caution and do additional fact-checking" if accessing these sites for information.

READ: 'Swift action’ needed against falsehoods, says Iswaran citing case of Hardwarezone Forum post on coronavirus

Monday's disabling order comes after three correction directions were issued to the STR Facebook page, which is owned by Mr Alex Tan, since November last year.

Facebook had issued a correction notice last year for another STR post. 

On Tuesday morning, STR said in a Facebook post it will "shut down today" to meet compliance required by MCI. 

It added that The Real Singapore will take over the Facebook page and ownership of the STR website. 

As of Tuesday morning, its Facebook page name was changed to @THEREALSINGAPORE. 

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