Singapore orders Facebook, Twitter to correct false virus statement

false statement Singapore
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past chairs stacked up outside restaurants as dining-in is restricted to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore on Thursday ordered Facebook and Twitter to carry a correction notice to users of the social media platforms in the country over what it says is a false statement about a new virus variant originating in Singapore. 

The ministry of health said it was aware of the statement circulating online on media outlets and social media platforms, which implied that a new, previously unknown variant of COVID-19 originated in Singapore and risked spreading to India from the city-state. 

The move came after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a Twitter post this week that a new form of the virus that was particularly harmful to children had come to Singapore, and urged for a ban on flights.

Both the Singapore and Indian governments have criticised the opposition politician, saying his comments were not based on facts and were “irresponsible”.

The correction orders were issued under Singapore’s fake news law, or the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act.

Facebook and Twitter confirmed receipt of the order and said they complied as per the local law.

A prompt on users’ Facebook news feeds linked to a government website that said there was no new “Singapore” variant of COVID-19. Neither is there evidence of any COVID-19 variant that is “extremely dangerous for kids”, the health ministry said. 

It said the B16172 strain found in many new COVID-19 cases in Singapore was first detected in India.

Twitter sent notifications to its account holders based in Singapore, which included a tweet from the government’s official account @POFMA_Notice. 

Singapore Press Holdings’ SPH Magazines, which was also issued the order, said it had complied and posted the notice in its HardWareZone forum.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Ed Davies, Martin Petty)

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Singapore invokes ‘fake news’ law over Facebook post

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