Lawmaker Blasts Facebook Over Refusal To Take Down ‘False’ Post

A Singapore lawmaker has now hit out at Facebook yesterday which says that it had reneged on a promise to help rein in fake news and calling for the tougher regulations which the social media firms have cautioned against.

“Facebook has…given assurances that it will work closely with the Singapore authorities to swiftly address online falsehoods and yet, when there's an actual falsehood that attacks Singapore, Facebook refuses to remove the content,” Edwin Tong told parliament.

It was not immediately clear that what was assurances he was referring to. “It (Facebook) will allow itself to be a platform for the spread of lies, falsity to poison and divide society through such lies, encourage xenophobia and profit from that,” added Tong, who is Singapore's senior minister of state for a law. This month the incident “reinforces” the need for the legislation said the Tong in a report, who is also on a panel of lawmaker which has recommended the government consider legislation to tackle the spread of online falsehoods or the “fake news”.

Regarding its refusal to take down the post, Facebook earlier said in an emailed statement it did not have a policy “that prohibits alleged falsehoods, apart from in situations where this content has the potential to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request from the report which seeks the comment following the Tong’s remarks on yesterday. Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority this month said Facebook had declined its request to take down a post linking to the article by an Australian-based independent blogger. “Facebook has declined to take down a post that is false, defamatory and attacks Singapore, using falsehoods,” the law ministry said in a statement on its website at the time.

Facebook which has its headquarter in Singapore and recently also revealed the plans to invest around $1 Billion in its first Asian data center in the city-state has also previously sparred with the government over the fake news. In March, Law Minister K Shanmugam questioned during a parliamentary debate whether social media networks were capable of regulating themselves, while senior Facebook executives pushed back at the idea of further laws to battle fake news.

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