The government of Singapore has applied a controversial "fake news law" to a Facebook message from the SDP, a social-democratic opposition party in the country. It is the third time that the law is enforced and for the first time that a message from a political party is the subject.
The SDP wrote on its Facebook page that a growing number of local experts, managers, supervisors, and technicians (a group known as PMETs) are losing their jobs.
According to the Singaporean ministry of Mankracht, that is incorrect. The ministry says that the number of PMETs with a job has been increasing steadily since 2015. According to preliminary statistics published in November, more than half of Singaporeans have a job as PMET.
The report calls the number of PMETs without jobs "stable". The figures show that the number of people in this category in 2019 is the same as the year before: 2.9 percent are unemployed. Since 2015, this difference has been no less than 0.2 percentage point higher or lower. The final report will be published in January.
As a result of the judgment, two Facebook messages and an article on the SDP website must be provided with an annotation. It must show that the content contains "misleading graphs and an incorrect representation of the facts".
Previously applied to blogger and politician
The Singaporean law entered into force in October. Previously, a message from a blogger living in Australia was rated as fake news. Facebook responded to Singapore's demand in December by annotating the message.
In November, a Facebook message from Singaporean politician Brad Bowyer of the opposition party PSP also had to be corrected.
Activists call the law a threat to freedom of expression. Moreover, according to opposition parties, the law gives the current government too much power. The Singaporean government argues that the city state is vulnerable to deception and untruth.