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

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

Screengrab of the Singapore States Times Facebook page on May 6, 2020.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore States Times' (SST) and its owner Alex Tan's Facebook pages will be Declared Online Locations (DOL) under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) from Thursday (May 7). 

These Facebook pages have "repeatedly communicated numerous falsehoods, of which at least three on each page were the subject of POFMA directions from November 2019 to date", said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) in a media release on Wednesday. 

READ: Singapore States Times issued correction direction over post alleging COVID-19 transmission in schools

READ: Health Minister orders POFMA correction directions to States Times Review, Facebook over COVID-19 post

"In recent months, both Facebook pages have communicated falsehoods regarding the COVID-19 virus situation in Singapore," the ministry said.

These falsehoods include: the number of COVID-19 cases in schools, the Ministry of Health's (MOH) reporting of COVID-19 cases in Singapore, the payment of salaries for quarantined migrant workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as allegations of abuse of police power

"SST and Tan have refused to comply with any of the directions issued to them," MCI said.

Under the declarations, both Facebook pages are required to carry a notice stating that they have been declared DOLs. Visitors to the pages will be warned that the pages have a history of communicating falsehoods. 

"The declaration will also make it an offence for both SST and Tan to derive benefit from operating the Facebook pages, and prohibit the provision of financial support to them for the purposes of supporting, helping or promoting the communication of falsehoods," said MCI.

READ: States Times Review Facebook page designated as Declared Online Location under POFMA: MCI

READ: As coronavirus misinformation spreads on social media, Facebook removes posts

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

"Both Facebook pages are linked to other websites that are operated by Tan, which derive monetary benefits from these falsehoods at the expense of Singaporeans and our society," MCI said. 

This is the second time that Facebook pages operated by Tan have been designated as DOLs. The States Times Review Facebook page was designed a DOL on Feb 16.

On Tuesday, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung instructed that a correction direction be issued to Singapore States Times and Tan over an online post alleging COVID-19 transmission in schools.

The post said that the Education Minister "is responsible for numerous infections in schools after he refused to close down the schools", said Government website Factually.

It also said that "at least 50 students and teachers had become infected with COVID-19 by Apr 3, 2020 as a result of transmission in schools, which is false", said Factually.

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Source: CNA/ad

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