SINGAPORE: The suggestion that satire is fake news is “erroneous” and the Media Literacy Council (MLC) had “made a mistake” in classifying it as such, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Friday (Sep 13).
Mr Shanmugam was responding to questions from reporters about an infographic uploaded by the Media Literacy Council to its Facebook page on Sep 5.
The infographic had stated that fake news could take many forms including false context, impostor content, manipulated content, misleading content, clickbait and satire.
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), which was passed earlier this year, does not cover opinion, criticism, satire or parody.
READ: Media Literacy Council apologises for “confusion” after labelling satire as an example of fake news
MLC, which aims to address issues of cybersafety and security, discernment of online falsehoods, cyberbullying and uncivil online behaviour, took down the infographic on Sep 7 after criticism on social media.
It issued an apology the next day in a new Facebook post.
“We acknowledge that the post and the infographic gave the wrong impression that satire was fake news, which was not the intent. We are sorry for the confusion and will review our material,” said MLC.
“The suggestion that satire is covered by POFMA is erroneous,” said Mr Shanmugam. “We’ve been very clear, I’ve been very clear, both in Parliament and outside – POFMA does not cover satire.
“When there is material, it has to be looked at objectively – is it factual, is it false but pretends to be factual, or is it satire, parody, opinion and so on.”
READ: Singapore proposes multi-pronged law to combat online falsehoods
READ: FAQ – How does POFMA stop deliberate online falsehoods from spreading?
“Only false statements that objectively would be seen as statements of fact can be caught under POFMA,” he added.
Mr Shanmugam also said that the MLC were made up of “good people” who “give generously of their time” in trying to help in a “variety of issues”.
“I can understand what the MLC was trying to say. But either they made a mistake or it didn’t get said accurately,” he added.
Speaking to reporters, the minister also addressed congestion issues at the new Yishun Integrated Transport Hub. Earlier in the week, there were reports of jams that delayed traffic by more than 30 minutes during the morning and evening rush hours.
“It happens when such hubs open,” said Mr Shanmugam, adding that the congestion had cleared by Tuesday.