Online falsehood is a purpose intend of the person organization spreading the information on web platform that is incontrovertibly false which contains an important impact such as affecting the national security and sovereignty. Their aims are to attack institution, public and people by weaken public establishments, interfere in elections as well as countries different democratic process. Actors who want to hurt Singapore will find this as an efficient way to undermine Singapore. This is a serious global problem that is affecting us in many ways.
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Singapore being the one in all the foremost open and globally connected countries within the world. This has been a concern by people in Singapore as there is high internet penetration in Singapore. The tactics are often not visible to us. More than 91% household have internet access; thus it is easier to attack and spread falsehood. Not to mention, 2 in 3 of Singaporeans says they have difficulty recognizing online falsehoods. 1 in 4 of them have shared the information and later discover that it was false. This shows how Singapore is vulnerable to this threat. Similarly, it can create tension if viral falsehood sowed distrust, seemingly to cause unrest or violence between members of the community. One examples in recent case by veteran diplomat Bilahari regarding the Facebook post about Beijing’s influence operation that may threaten the Republic’s social contract.
As Quoted by the committee “Perpetrators maybe motivated by politics, prejudice or ideology” and “Individuals may be motivated by profits, mischief or social connection. ” To address this issue, The Government with the select committee has come up 22 proposals to combat fake news. Firstly, legislation is needed, and government ought to have the powers to limit or block the unfold of faux news is needed. Secondly, technology corporations need to be clear and responsible by closing the accounts, banning the advertisement site sites that contains fake news and prevent suspicious actors from using the advertising tools. They should maintain credibility. The committee additionally suggested that laws should implement to cut off digital advertising revenue to people who spread fake news and force criminal sanctions in serious cases. Thirdly, media organization and trade partners to take into an account in settling up a fact-checking coalition to fleetly dismissed fake news and gave ideas on ways to ensure accurate journalism. Fourthly, to create a framework to improve media literacy among Singapore. School to include curriculum on managing misinformation. As per IP researcher’s, equipping people with critical literacy will increase their ‘immunity’ to the different untruth information in the long run. Fifth, to reinforce social cohesion and trust. Strengthen trust among communities helps to reduce distrust during falsehood attacks. Finally, new laws to safeguard the integrity and process of Singapore.
There are several reasons why Government should not enact more laws to prevent and combat online falsehoods. Firstly, being a democratic country, people are allowing to express their views be it political, social or economical. All people are treated equally as far as law is concerned. Thus, government should permit the general public to greater access to information and work up efforts to spice up media literacy. Being able to access to additional source of data enables them to develop a questioning and demanding mindset on what’s true or false. Whether or not the data is from officials or freelance sources. There is need to make the process more open and informatory as online space is for everyone. Greater transparency and openness additionally comes with the good thing about building and strengthening trust by demonstrating the Government’s deposition to be held to account and communicate openly with its citizen.
Next, there is a risk of compromising freedom of expression and speech via legislative tools that will solid a wider internet than intended and end up censoring legitimate speech just because of the challenges of implementing such legislation. As we can see in recent years, the push-back from the public has been quite sturdy. The government has been putting out an informatory approach to have interaction with general public.
Secondly, Government has not conferred convincing proof that the difficulty of online fabrications could be a considerably new or totally different threat from that already addressed by existing law. As quoted by human rights group Maruah “existing laws can already be used and are used against (deliberate online falsehoods) in Singapore and overseas. There is a very high risk that any legislative action will stifle free speech and may be used the legitimate expression of dissident views. Mr. Terry Xu, chief editor of The Online Citizen said that countries cited in the Green Paper online falsehood which are introducing are doing so because of their broad-based law compared to Singapore’s generalized law. All affected parties agreed that existing laws are enough to manage online falsehood. For example, Telecommunications Act covers falsehoods transmitted electronically. Whereas, the Defamation Act covers slander down orders.
Thirdly, Media literacy are going to be a vital weapon within the fight against fake news and it should starts from young ages. Most importantly, attention ought to be paid into inaccurate information that cause real damage to individuals rather than uncertain concern regarding 'political manipulation'. Given these points, to combat falsehoods online, legislation is not the method forward but a few steps back.
However, some select Committee thinks laws should plays a role to fight against online falsehood. They mentioned that technology companies may have to come under laws to act against false information online as Facebook, Google and Twitter have a policy of usually not acting against content on the premise that is true. As people nowadays spent more time in online, one measures for them is to self-regulate, investing their technological to tackle the matter they are complicit in. In addition, technology corporation have acknowledged the importance of self-regulation, experimenting with completely different approaches to counter deliberate online falsehoods throughout election periods. For examples, Twitter has improved its algorithm to stamp out bot accounts whereas Google and Facebook have committed to rising responsivities and transparency concerning political advertisement on its platform. Furthermore, as mentioned that fact-checking is important. They are not enough on their own as people with low trust in government or establishments are more likely to believe in rumors.
In conclusion, government should not enact more laws to prevent and combat online falsehoods.