POFMA – Protect the PAP from Opposition’s Falsehoods and Manipulation Act

Last Friday, PM Lee said that the legislation to tackle deliberate online falsehoods will be introduced in Parliament on Monday (Apr 1). According to him, The new Bill will give the Government the power to hold online news sources and platforms accountable if they proliferate deliberate online falsehoods.

“This includes requiring them to show corrections or display warnings about online falsehoods so that readers or viewers can see all sides and make up their own minds about the matter. In extreme and urgent cases, the legislation will also require online news sources to take down fake news before irreparable damage is done.”

PM Lee Hsien Loong

Why is this law a problem?

With such a law, any of the government’s critics could be nitpicked for any small factual mistakes, and be taken down. The government can then label the guy as “untrustworthy” or “incompetent”, invalidating every other argument he has made, even if they were true.

With such a law, the government is the sole dictator of truth. Who would use the law against them when instead they are the ones who misinform or spread fake news, even if it was done on accident?

Granted, some fake news being spread around might actually be harmful, and perhaps a label indicating that the article is false would help. However, the proper way to fight fake news is to produce your own convincing argument in public, and not treating your citizens as idiots who won’t understand you.