Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he welcomed more regulation of big tech, but he probably didn’t mean this.
A new bill in Singapore — which had its first reading Monday — would give the government sweeping new powers to crack down on so-called “fake news” and hit Facebook and other social media companies with big fines if they don’t comply with censorship orders.
Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, it will be illegal to spread “false statements of fact” in Singapore, where that information is “prejudicial” to Singapore’s security, public safety, “public tranquility,” or to the “friendly relations of Singapore with other countries,” among numerous other topics.
Individuals found guilty of contravening the act can face fines of up to 50,000 SGD (over $36,000) and, or, up to five years in prison. If the “fake news” is posted using “an inauthentic online account or controlled by a bot,” the total potential fine rises to 100,000 SGD (around $73,000), and, or, up to 10 years in prison.
Companies such as Facebook, if found guilty of spreading “fake news,” can face fines of up to 1 million SGD (around $735,000).
What exactly constitutes “a false statement of fact” is to be defined by the government, which can then choose to issue a demand for a correction, removal of the offending post, or to pursue legal action against the poster or social network.