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Singapore Orders Facebook, Twitter For Posting Amendment Notices In False Covid-19 Information Spread

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Correction notices have been sent to social media sites for posts alleging there is a Singapore strain of COVID-19 however, this order would only extend to their users in Singapore.

Singapore has ordered that posts claiming a local strain of the COVID-19 virus bear correction notice on Facebook and Twitter. The order, however, only affects users in the country who use the platforms.

Singapore ordered Facebook and Twitter to issue a correction notice to users in the country on Thursday, claiming that a false statement about a new virus variant originating in Singapore was made.

The ministry of health said it was aware of a statement circulated online on media outlets and social media sites that said a new, previously unknown variant of COVID-19 emerged in Singapore and was at risk of spreading to India.

The decision came after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a Twitter post this week that a new strain of the virus had arrived in Singapore, posing a threat to children, and called for a flight ban.

Both the Singaporean and Indian governments have slammed the opposition politician’s remarks, calling them “irresponsible” and “unfounded.”

Singapore’s high commissioner, Simon Wong, later told a virtual news conference that his country was pleased with the Indian government’s clarification, but that his country reserved the right to use a domestic fake news law to stop misinformation from spreading.

Singapore’s fake news rule, or the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, was used to issue correction orders to social media sites (POFMA).

According to Reuters, Facebook acknowledged receipt of the order and stated that it was legally obligated to issue the correction notice.

Users will see a prompt on their Facebook news feeds that directs them to a government website that clarifies that there is no new ‘Singapore’ version of Covid-19. There is no proof of any Covid-19 version that is “especially dangerous for children,” as Kejriwal says.

Singapore’s move has elicited no response from Twitter. Singapore’s health ministry dismissed Kejriwal’s claims, saying that the form seen in many Covid-19 cases in recent weeks was the “B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India.”

India’s Foreign Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, chastised Kejriwal, who is a member of the country’s largest opposition group, Aam Aadmi Party.

On Twitter, Jaishankar said: “Long-standing relationships can be harmed by irresponsible remarks by those who should know better. So, to be clear, the Delhi Chief Minister does not speak for India ”

He went on to say that both countries had worked together to fight COVID-19 and that India was “appreciative” of Singapore’s position as a logistics center and supplier of medical oxygen during the second wave.

Covid in Singapore

Singapore has recently seen an increase in locally transmitted incidents, prompting the government to tighten social restrictions once more.

According to The Straits Times, while a number of children in the city-state have recently been infected with Covid-19, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said Sunday that while none of them are critically ill, the situation is still concerning.

Nonetheless, Singapore announced on Tuesday that children aged 12 to 15 would be able to receive vaccinations.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Singapore has recorded over 61,600 cases and 31 deaths so far.

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