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Singapore's 'fake news' laws upset tech giants

15 Comments
By Theodore Lim

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Right or wrong....I for one think it's about time that someone steps up and looks to put a stop to the "fake news" that has become almost an epidemic on SNS.

Far too many people are gullible and believe everything they read on the 'net and somehow that has to stop.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

This is what Governments do when the might have something to hide themselves.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

The law won't last long, but at least it brings up the conversation: What can we do about fake news?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Singapore does not have free speech. Why don't these tech companies slag off China, which is far worse?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Regardless of what one thinks of the law, what's up with the punishment discrimination? A fine (pennies for large tech companies and quite doable for medium sized firms), but 10 year imprisonment for individuals? How about making both equal? Give both individuals a fine or both 10 years imprisonment (the corporate equivalent would be a suspension of business for the set term).

Perhaps we should all incorporate ourselves so we just pay a fine, including for hmicide.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When will we get that here?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A fine (pennies for large tech companies and quite doable for medium sized firms), but 10 year imprisonment for individuals?

A very effective form on intimidation, for anyone who knows Singapore's history of going after individuals.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The way you combat falsehoods is by debunking them with truthhoods. The way you combat misinformation aka cherry picking half-truths or facts to advance or push a one-sided false narrative is by providing other alternative view points and facts so people can be exposed to other sides of the story, thus be able to choose among alternative purveyors of supposed truth, and decide for themselves which narrative to believe. The problem with misinformation and fake news is the one-sidedness. Banning all alternative and non-officially approved information will only make the problem so much more worse.

I do have to admit that there is a big problem with exposing people to alternative non-mainstream view points. The internet was supposed to democratize information so that people can be exposed to what the little guy had to say, but ironically in some ways the opposite has happened. Social platforms like YouTube had only amplified the mainstream voices to an even bigger level while suppressing and dwarfing the little guy with no voice. It's a lot more difficult to get people to hear your alternative view point if it does not conform to the ''accepted'' mainstream narrative. Think about how many of the various mainstream narratives that circulate the internet and the globe have any alternatives to them? Very few for the simple reason that the people who might have an alternative narrative that does not conform to the mainstream one are likely an underclass who don't have the skills or even opportunity to grow online to a level that would allow them to challenge the mainstream views. To sell a narrative, there has to be people wanting to buy it, but if your narrative is against the people with the purchasing power, well then nobody is going to buy your narrative. There is no market for it, so it becomes difficult to sell it, and popularize it.

Think about it this way. Churchill said "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on", well, the internet has made it a lot more easier for a lie to travel around the world, and a lot harder for the truth to get its pants on, simply because people are not seeking the truth, they are seeking a narrative that validates their opinions. Think about which narrative conforms to what the majority of the internet population wants to hear and believe.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What is Fake News and how does that differ from a telling a different perspective of the Truth ?

If Individuals and Companies are to be held account, then surely it is only fair that Government Officials should likewise be held account ?

Also, does "News" also extend to advertising ? And... what about Religion ?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

And... What about Weather forecasts ? Let's that included in the discussion upon Fake News ... or News with inaccuracies, and likewise Financial advise... the list could grow. Particularly with Finance, if Fake news were extended to that, then Singapore is going down.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Politicians should not have control over what the "truth" is.

This is a very difficult problem to address 100%, especially when slang terms are used with different meanings in different locations.

Do we really need to worry about lies from an account with 5 followers? No.

As the number of views increase, the lies have more impacts and a "source trustworthy" rating is necessary. Is it worth policing social media accounts from entertainers marketing products with untruths? What about homeopathic "cures? or other unproven treatments?

Then there are verifiable facts and unverified opinions. The bus is red is factual. No discussion, so it should stay up regardless of what any politician wants. Political opinions are much harder, so label them as opinion and put a "trustworthy" rating based on history for the author.

I have no idea how they should deal with religious opinions - maybe label it as religion?

Start with posts that have over 1M views on the fact checking and as that becomes more efficient, check 500K, 250K and 100K view posts.

Singapore is a different place. The city feels protective of their people and citizens generally trust the govt to be helpful. At least that is my sense from multiple visits. But they also have cameras everywhere. If you are outside your home/hotel, then you are probably being watched by 1 if not 3 cameras.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, I'm not surprised that tech companies are frightened by this, since they get an awful lot of revenue and attention from articles that have sensationalist attributes and a severe lack of supporting evidence. The amount of this kind of rubbish you can find on Facebook is rather alarming, so having a strong measure such as this is a good idea.

Tech companies love to fall back on "Free Speech" as a means to try and stop measures like this one, but this isn't about free speech, it's about removing spam from the internet. There are an infinite number of ways for people to express free speech without pumping out nonsense. The only reason tech companies oppose this is because it hurts them. They're not doing it to protect people, just to protect their profit margins.

What is Fake News and how does that differ from a telling a different perspective of the Truth ?

Fake News is a news story that has little/no evidence supporting it. You find it a lot in gossip magazines and things like that. Rumours and suspicions, claims and counter claims, but no facts or evidence one way or the other. There's no "different perspective" on the truth. The truth is the truth, there's no two ways about it. If it has solid, undeniable evidence, it is a fact aka it is the truth. If it has no supporting evidence then at best it is a theory or hypothesis.

Also, does "News" also extend to advertising ? And... what about Religion ?

Advertising and religion aren't news. Advertising is the promotion of a product or service via claims and testimonies which may or may not be truthful. Religion is the practice of brainwashing gullible people into believing that they are being watched and guided by a bronze age sky fairy.

What about Weather forecasts ?

Also, not news. Weather forecasts are predictions about what the weather is likely to be like, using technology. Anyone with even the most basic understanding of natural phenomenon knows that these predictions will never be 100% accurate. It's physically impossible.

To be honest, I see no reason to condemn or oppose this measure. I can foresee a lot of people making conspiracy theories about it, and a lot of people who are guilty of circulating fake news will no doubt claim it's an oppression of free speech, but for sensible, honest folk this won't have any negative impact upon their daily lives. They may notice a reduction in falsehoods posted online, and the warnings that certain posts are lacking factual evidence will help them make better judgements upon those posts, but that's about all. They'll continue with life just the same as always. The only ones who will be hurt by it are the ones already violating it and need to be stopped from doing that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This shouldnt be a surprise to anyone who knows Singapore. Social media does pose a huge potential threat to Singapore, which is multi-cultural, comprising groups who don't like each other, to put it mildly.

The peace of recent years has been thanks to the draconian and omnipresent stance of the govt. No one wants to see a return of the race riots.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fake News is a news story that has little/no evidence supporting it.

No, fake news is news that is written based on falsehoods with an intent to deceive. A story with little supporting evidence is poor journalism, but if the author is writing what they have found to be true, and not with intent to deceive, it's not fake news.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Singapore does not have free speech. Why don't these tech companies slag off China, which is far worse?

Or Russia? But anyway, China doesn't pretend or say they're a democracy, tho?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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