Temporary Pofma exemptions lifted due to spread of virus
Search engines such as Google and Baidu and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter must now comply with general correction directions on fake news.
They were among several Internet intermediaries that were temporarily exempted from such directions when the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) took effect last year.
Citing "the evolving situation with the Wuhan coronavirus", the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) yesterday said the exemption is being lifted as of today.
As misinformation on the virus spreads online, the ministry noted the need to provide accurate and up-to-date information, and to deal with falsehoods that may cause panic or confusion.
General correction directions are different from targeted correction directions, which require a user or Internet platform to carry a correction notice on a post, article or other content containing a falsehood.
A general correction direction can be issued to prescribed Internet intermediaries, telecom and broadcast licensees or newspapers to get them to communicate, publish, broadcast or transmit a correction notice to all users in Singapore, not just the ones who access the falsehood.
Previous corrections issued under Pofma have mostly been targeted corrections.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong instructed the Pofma Office to issue the first general correction on Tuesday against SPH Magazines, which runs the HardwareZone forum, over a user post that falsely claimed someone in Singapore had died from the Wuhan virus.
The company, which had earlier taken down the thread in line with its community guidelines, complied with the order.
HardwareZone was not on the list of exempted intermediaries.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan instructed the Pofma Office on Wednesday to issue a targeted correction direction to Facebook after two users falsely alleged that Woodlands MRT station was closed for disinfection because of a suspected case of the Wuhan virus.
Facebook was required to carry a correction notice on the two posts that contained the falsehood.
MCI said: "We have worked closely with the relevant technology companies, and appreciate the industry's support and cooperation in our national response to this challenging situation."