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POFMA Office issues woman conditional warning for Facebook post about pre-schooler dying from COVID-19 in KKH

POFMA Office issues woman conditional warning for Facebook post about pre-schooler dying from COVID-19 in KKH

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

SINGAPORE: A 47-year-old woman has been issued a conditional warning over a false statement on Facebook, said the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office.

The woman had made a statement knowing or having reason to believe that it is false and likely to harm the public interest, the office said in a statement on Thursday (Mar 31).

On Aug 14 last year, the woman made a false statement on Facebook that a three-year-old pre-schooler had passed away from COVID-19 at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), and that the death was deliberately not reported.

"The falsehood caused public alarm and ran counter to efforts to combat the COVID-19 virus," said the POFMA Office.

The next day, POFMA direction was issued to Facebook to carry a correction notice to all Facebook users in Singapore to inform them of the falsehood.

According to the POFMA Office, investigations revealed that the woman had concocted the falsehood based on hearsay from an acquaintance. She was aware that no such death of a pre-schooler had been reported and yet went ahead to post the falsehood, it added.

Investigations also revealed that she had taken steps to evade identification by using a social media account with a fictitious name to post the false statement, and further falsely represented that she “[had] permission from [the] girl’s mummy to post on FB”.

"Online falsehoods that sow public confusion affects lives and harms society. The Government takes a serious view of the deliberate communication of these false statements," said the POFMA Office.

It issued a 24-month conditional warning to the woman "after considering all aspects of the case".

If she reoffends during this period, she can be prosecuted for the original crime.

If found guilty under POFMA, she can be fined up to S$50,000, jailed for up to 5 years, or both.

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Source: CNA/ic(ta)

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