Select Committee formed to study deliberate online falsehoods

Select Committee formed to study deliberate online falsehoods

The Committee of Selection in Parliament has picked the members of the Select Committee set up to study deliberate online falsehoods, Deputy Speaker Charles Chong revealed on Thursday (Jan 11). 

SINGAPORE: The Committee of Selection in Parliament has picked the members of the Select Committee set up to study deliberate online falsehoods, Deputy Speaker Charles Chong revealed on Thursday (Jan 11). 

It will be chaired by Mr Chong and include Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and for Education Janil Puthucheary, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee, Members of Parliament (MPs) Rahayu Mahzam, Seah Kian Peng, Sun Xueling and Edwin Tong, as well as Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh and Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong.

The Select Committee will examine and report on deliberate online falsehoods and make recommendations for countermeasures.

Ms Sun said that as the MP for Punggol, "a very young ward" with residents that are social media savvy and take to the Internet to express their views freely, she wants to ensure that all options are fully explored to help distinguish between those who spread online falsehoods deliberately and those who are just expressing their opinions. 

She added: "Given the ability of online deliberate falsehoods to narrow cast to specific groups of society, I hope to ensure that when we look at how to tackle online deliberate falsehoods, we also look into those that target different language groups.”

For Mr Seah, he said that he wants to share his "own views as a citizen, MP and views as gathered from residents, friends and corporate leaders". 

The MP for Marine Parade GRC also said that he would like to focus more on the Term of Reference of the Select Committee as set out in the motion, which was the emphasis of his speech during the debate in Parliament on Wednesday. 

The formation of the committee comes after Mr Shanmugam said in Parliament on Wednesday that Singapore is "highly susceptible" to online falsehoods, because of the country's high Internet penetration rate. 

He cited the rumours circulating in July last year on WhatsApp and Facebook that cat and dog meat were being sold at the Geylang Serai Bazaar.

Other MPs present in Parliament also spoke in support of the motion to establish the Select Committee.

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, for example, suggested a "broader national conversation about the issue", and that public education alone was not enough given how easily digital content can be manipulated and spread.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote that while "fake news" became a talking point last year, it has affected livelihoods and divided societies for far longer. 

"The difference now is fake news can spread in a matter of hours, on social media or text messaging. Singapore, highly connected and wired up, is especially vulnerable," Mr Lee said. 

The Prime Minister said that public feedback will be sought on the issue, and encouraged people to give their views on the problem. 

"Everyone needs to be part of the solution, by checking that story before you click the Forward button!"

Source: CNA/dl

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