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Singapore passes new law to curb 'harmful' social media content

Singapore passed legislation on Wednesday empowering authorities to order social media platforms Facebook, TikTok, and others to remove “egregious content” such as those promoting self-harm, sexual exploitation, terrorism, and hate.

The new law empowers the regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority to issue orders to platforms, including Instagram and YouTube, to take down content deemed “egregious.”
The new law empowers the regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority to issue orders to platforms, including Instagram and YouTube, to take down content deemed “egregious.” Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

The law tightens regulation of social media in the city-state, where rights groups have accused the government of using legislation to stifle free expression.

Social media firms face a fine of up to SGD 1 million (USD 715,000) if they fail to comply.

Singapore passed a law against online falsehoods and fake news in 2019, which the government said was aimed at fighting disinformation but which political activists and tech giants criticised as restrictive.

The new law empowers the regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority to issue orders to platforms, including Instagram and YouTube, to take down content deemed “egregious.”

This covers content advocating terrorism, suicide and self-harm, violence, child sexual exploitation, and those likely to undermine racial and religious harmony.

As well as fines, the IMDA can also order internet service providers to block access by users in Singapore.

Social media companies had no immediate reaction.

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo told parliament the new law aims to fill gaps not addressed by other legislation.

She cited the case of a 14-year-old girl in Britain who took her life after being exposed to such posts.

“There have also been reports of users’ accidental deaths while attempting to mimic videos of impossible physical stunts,” Teo said.

She said that users are now more likely to see such harmful content on social media feeds that are “pushed via algorithms” and become viral within minutes.

Author
CtoI News Desk
CtoI News Desk – CtoI

Singapore-headquartered online media company targeting Indian Diaspora across Singapore, US, UK, India and UAE. Connected to India covers developments around NRIs. Cover arts, political, sports, finance, entrepreneurship, business, movies, dramas, entertainment and other news for Indians living worldwide.

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