Asian governments are trying to curb fake news

Apr 04, 2019

EVEN ON April Fools’ Day, Singapore’s government was in no mood for fun. K. Shanmugam, the law minister, warned lawmakers of the dangers of unregulated speech, handing them a list of “offensive song lyrics”, which included hits by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. Shortly afterwards the government introduced a bill in parliament to curb fake news. If passed into law, which is likely, it would be among the world’s most far-reaching. Under its provisions, those found guilty of spreading “false statements of fact” online face fines of up to S$1m ($740,000) or a maximum of 10 years in jail. Social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be required to take down posts the government deems false or to publish corrections.

Although few Asian governments have drawn up plans as extensive as Singapore’s, many say they are looking for ways to limit online disinformation. Among the region’s autocrats, this is usually code for suppressing criticism. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the head of Thailand’s military junta, recently denounced social media as an incubator for “incorrect thinking”—by which he appeared to mean complaints about the election he rigged last month. His government has pushed through several laws that allow it to monitor and curb online dissent.

For governments with purer motives, striking a balance between public security...

Other news

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.