Media Literacy Council apologises for calling satire 'fake news', Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Media Literacy Council apologises for calling satire 'fake news'

This article is more than 12 months old

It promises indignant netizens that it will 'review its material'

The Media Literacy Council (MLC) has apologised for a Facebook post featuring a graphic that described satire as a type of fake news, which got netizens up in arms.

The graphic had highlighted six types of "fake news": False context, imposter content, manipulated content, misleading content, clickbait and satire.

Most of the 250-plus comments left on the MLC post as of 5pm yesterday disagreed that satire was a form of fake news, with a few asking if the council itself was misleading the public and some asking it to issue an apology and retraction.

In a statement yesterday, the MLC acknowledged that the post gave the wrong impression that satire was fake news, which was not the intent.

"We are sorry for the confusion and will review our material," it added, thanking readers.

The MLC's post, which went online on last Thursday, had promoted its fact-check kit called "Get Smart With Sherlock", and also featured a cartoon figure which appears to be modelled after fictional private detective Sherlock Holmes.

Singaporean cartoonist Dan Wong commented that the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), which was passed in May, excluded opinion, criticism, satire or parody from its definition of falsehood.

During several weeks of public discourse over the law - with academics, journalists, activists, politicians and senior lawyers giving inputs - Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had also stressed that Pofma would cover only false statement of facts, and not criticism, opinion, satire and parody.


In a Facebook post yesterday, Associate Professor Leong Ching, dean of students at the National University of Singapore, wrote that the MLC should print a retraction and correction.

"We do not expect perfection from our public agencies but we do expect them to behave in a certain way if they make mistakes," she said.

In a Friday night comment replying to Mr Wong, the MLC said it understood concerns regarding including satire as fake news in relation to Pofma.

It explained that while Pofma defines a falsehood as a statement of fact that is false or misleading and does not extend to opinion, criticism, satire or parody, the examples in the kit represent other possible scenarios in which fake news can be spread.

These include clickbait articles that make exaggerated claims, or instances of people being fooled by a satirical article in which the irony or humour is not readily apparent, said MLC.