Online falsehoods have been spreading rapidly in Singapore’s media ever since the creation of internet. It is a negative voice, thought, comment or an attack that someone opinionate to a person or an organization. It is demonstrated falsely which can cause a significant impact such as affecting the racial and religious harmony or national security. Singapore’s government have placed out many relevant legislations, such as the Sedition Act, the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Telecommunications Act, the Defamation Act and the Penal Code to prevent cases of online falsehoods. With many existing laws imposed on online falsehood, the government should not enact more laws to prevent and combat falsehoods. As it will prevent people from speaking their opinions which will create more unhappiness among them as their voices are unheard.
According to Channel News Asia’s Bharati Jagdish’s (2018) discussion on online falsehoods, he believes that online users can use the information given by others as a platform for discussion, to elevate their understanding on the situation to become a thinking society. Opinions given online by people helps to create a platform for discussion, whereby people can read to understand how others feel about a situation that is happening. This interaction allows people to project their opinions freely, as long as it is not targeted at anyone or organization and not affecting the racial and religious harmony or national security. With these existing laws, the government can prosecute offenders that caused the stirs online. A good example on how these laws are being imposed can be seen in a recent online falsehood by The Real Singapore (TRS). Both the founder and co-founder of TRS were charged with sedition and were imprisoned as they had spread news on a Filipino family complaining about Singaporeans who played music loudly during the Thaipusam religious festival to generate revenue. In this case, TRS news can affect the societal trust and peace between foreigners and Singaporeans. Will implementing more laws on online falsehoods endangers the work of journalists? An economical factor to ponder about. According to the editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Mr. Warren Fernandez, (2018), he mentioned that the laws imposed should have clear but subtle differences between deliberate and unintentional spread of falsehoods. With more laws implemented on to the existing laws, it is making the job of the journalist tough. As people do not want to offer up any information as they might be afraid of being charged with any unintentional crimes.
Eventually, the jobs of journalists get tougher and many will not want to pursue that as a job due to the limitations. However, enactment of additional laws to prevent and combat online falsehoods might be a need to help to expand the limitation of the existing laws. According to Mr. Edwin Tong, an MP for Marine Parade GRC (2018), he mentioned that falsehoods topics are not being covered thoroughly while dealing with the perpetrators. When a fresh news catches the attention of others, the main point of the falsehood is left hanging. Hence, the new approach to this situation would be to diminish the falsehood situation before restoring to the next issue. An example will be the story of “Rebeca Riviera”, she wrote on Facebook claiming that the authorities of Irma were hiding the truth about Air France increasing its airplane price tickets before the Hurricane occurs, leaving thousands dead.
However, these news turns out to be fake. While investigating on this news, many commented on this issue as it remained online which alarmed the public, affected the reputation of Air France. Even when “Rebecca Riveria” was arrested, there was no facts about the whole situation and the news remains online for more readers to discuss. Hence, the additional law of balancing legislation with education and reaching out to the different communities are also important to prevent and combat online falsehoods. It can be concluded that the government need not implement new laws but to make sure that readers are aware of the truth of the falsehood before moving on to the next. With these existing laws and increasing cases regarding online falsehood, people will eventually think before they post. If the government were to implement new laws, it might create unhappiness among Singaporeans ad their freedom of speech is being limited. Hence, the government will need to make developments in the existing laws that most people are already abiding to them.
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