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On Friday (September 13), Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam emphasized that satire is not covered by Pofma, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act.

Minister Shanmugam responded to questions from reporters on a recent Facebook post by the Media Literacy Council (MLC), which sparked an online debate for highlighting satire as one type of fake news.

“The suggestion that satire is covered by Pofma is erroneous,” he explained, referring to the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act passed in May.

“Only false statements which objectively would be seen as statements of fact, can be caught under Pofma,” he said, adding that this was a point he made before.

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The MLC post featured a graphic which highlighted six types of “fake news”: false context, imposter content, manipulated content, misleading content, clickbait and satire.

According to a Straits Times report, Mr Shanmugam explained: “I can understand what the MLC was trying to say. But either they made a mistake, or it didn’t get said accurately… That is unfortunately not an accurate representation of Pofma,” he said during a visit to the area around Yishun Integrated Transport Hub, which had seen traffic snarls on Monday caused by public buses waiting to turn into the interchange.

The MLC, whose members are appointed by the Minister for Communications and Information, apologised on Sunday.

Following a huge backlash from Singaporeans, the MLC apologized for the wrong impression that satire was fake news, which it said was not its intent.

Under Pofma, ministers, advised by other officials, will get to decide whether something is a falsehood and assess its impact on public interest. -/TISG

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