Facebook ordered to disable access to Alex Tan’s Facebook page

SINGAPORE – Facebook has been  by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office to disable access to the National Times Singapore (NTS) Facebook page for Singapore users, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said in a press statement issued on Saturday (May 30).

The Minister for Communications and Information has directed the Pofma office to do so, under section 34 of the Act.

“The NTS Facebook page, which is operated by Mr Tan, has communicated at least three false statements of fact. It has not complied with the Pofma Direction that it was served with for a post published on 15 May 2020,” said the MCI spokesman.

He added that after having been notified on May 28, 2020, that it had been designated a Declared Online Location (DOL), the page has not complied with the Declaration’s requirement to publish a notice that it has been declared a DOL.

The notice serves to warn visitors to the page of the falsehoods that are being communicated on the page.

MCI said yesterday that the DOL would make it an offence for Mr Tan to receive any benefit from operating the page and would prohibit the provision of financial support to it.

On May 15, the National Times Singapore Facebook page published a post claiming that “every criticism has been outlawed by the Singapore Government through its new Pofma legislation, where the politicians in power get to decide what is truth”.

In the same post, Mr Tan, who lives in Australia, alleged that Singapore’s judiciary was biased. He also claimed that Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam faced criminal charges in Malaysia.

This is the fourth Facebook page operated by Mr Tan that has been subjected to a disabling order.

Mr Tan was issued Pofma correction directions in relation to falsehoods conveyed on six separate occasions on his previous Facebook pages, the States Times Review and Singapore States Times.

Most of the earlier falsehoods related to the Covid-19 situation, including claims that Singapore had run out of face masks.

As of Saturday evening, the Facebook page was still accessible. Several new posts had been made throughout the day.

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