Social media companies put ‘revenue above precept’ on faux information

SINGAPORE, Jan 12 — Social media companies are hampered by their industrial pursuits when tackling faux information, Singapore’s legislation minister stated, underlining the necessity for the city-state’s legislation towards on-line falsehoods, which critics say stifles free speech.

Ok. Shanmugam, talking on Thursday in an interview for broadcast on the Reuters Subsequent convention at this time, defended the city-state’s new legislation towards concern from the likes of Fb that it’s a censorship software, and fears from rights teams and others that it’s used for political acquire.

He stated the legislation was crucial as a result of the platforms that always host faux information have enterprise fashions that rely upon “attracting eyeballs”.

The minister pointed to america the place lawmakers have additionally chided social media companies for permitting misinformation concerning the US election to unfold, significantly forward of the storming of the US Capitol final week.

“The tendency has been on the facet of the web platforms to say: hey, it’s free speech, there shouldn’t be any regulation of it,” Shanmugam, who can also be Singapore’s dwelling minister, stated. “Let’s be frank, when social media platforms argue towards it (regulation), it’s actually placing revenue above precept.”

Shanmugam stated there was a “consensus” growing around the globe that tackling faux information can’t be left to the tech platforms, though he stated it remained unclear what number of international locations would comply with Singapore with regulatory measures.

Singapore’s Safety from On-line Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) launched in late 2019 has been known as the “most far-reaching laws of its sort so far” by the Asia Web Coalition, an affiliation of web and expertise firms.

It permits authorities ministers to order information shops, social media customers or platforms to hold warnings that their pages or posts comprise false statements, and to incorporate hyperlinks to a authorities fact-checking web site. There are extra stringent actions, fines and even jail for non-compliance.

When ordered to dam entry to a web page final 12 months, Fb stated it contradicted the federal government’s declare that the legislation was not a “censorship software” and joined rights group in saying it might hurt freedom of expression in Singapore.

The federal government says the legislation solely tackles falsehoods and that professional criticism and free speech aren’t affected.

The legislation ensnared a number of authorities critics and opposition events and politicians within the run as much as the city-state’s election in July final 12 months, drawing concern from rights teams like Amnesty Worldwide. The legislation has not been used since.

The truth that quite a few them occur to be opposition politicians, suggests to you as to who then engages in such conduct,” Shanmugam stated when requested about those that have fallen foul of the legislation. — Reuters

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