A Singapore lawmaker hit out at Facebook on Tuesday, saying it had reneged on a promise to help rein in fake news and calling for tougher regulations, which the social media firm has cautioned against.
The criticism follows Facebook's refusal this month of a government request to remove an online article about the city-state's banks and Malaysia's scandal-linked 1MDB state fund, which the government said was false and malicious.
"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 what 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 law.
This month's incident "reinforces" the need for legislation, said Tong, who is also on a panel of lawmakers that has recommended the government consider legislation to tackle the spread of online falsehoods or '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".
Contacted for comment following Tong's remarks, a Facebook spokeswoman referred Reuters to the firm's previous statement.
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 clearly false, defamatory and attacks Singapore, using falsehoods," the law ministry said in a statement on its website at the time.
Facebook, which has its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore and recently unveiled plans to invest $1 billion in its first Asian data centre in the city-state, has previously sparred with the government over 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.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Rival protests rock Thailand
Biggest party in Malaysia’s ruling alliance backs PM Muhyiddin amid turmoil
Thailand welcomes first tourists since March
Tropical storm Saudel threatens Vietnam after soaking Philippines
Indonesia, Japan seek stronger security ties
Thais defy protest ban
New Zealand’s next parliament is set to be the most diverse ever
Embattled Thai premier recalls parliament as thousands protest
90 dead, 34 missing in central Vietnam floods, landslides