Facebook Lectures Singapore – Here’s Why We Refused To Take Down A Post Linking PM Lee To 1MDB Corruption

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Nov 16 2018
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In the last 6 months from April to September, Facebook reveals that it removed over 1.5 billion fake accounts. That’s up from 1.3 billion accounts it removed in the previous six months. That speaks volumes just how widespread false content and accounts are on the social media platform. Yet, when it comes to Singapore’s request to take down 1 post recently, Facebook refused to.


The Singapore government has been crazily mad and furious after Facebook rejected its request to remove an article by States Times Review linking Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to the corruption scandal involving 1MDB, the sovereign investment fund of Malaysia. The man behind 1MDB, former Prime Minister Najib Razak, has been slapped with dozens of charges.


It didn’t help that PM Lee and ex-PM Najib were both durian buddies, leading to speculation, perception and accusation that Singapore government helped the crook across the Causeway in corruption and money laundering. Of course, the article posted by alternative news website States Times Review has damaged PM Lee and Singapore’s reputation.

Najib Razak and Lee Hsien Loong - Sharing Durian

So, it’s understandable why Singapore Minister of Law, K Shanmugam, slammed Facebook on Nov 9 for declining to grant a request from the government. As far as the Singapore Government is concerned, everything under the sun that criticizes the leader or the administration is considered “false”, “fake” and “defamatory”.


Frustrated with Facebook’s refusal to play along, the Singapore Ministry of Law said that Facebook cannot be relied upon to filter falsehoods or protect Singapore from a false information campaign, hence, justified that Singapore needs new legislation to combat fake news such as the one published by Alex Tan, the editor of the States Times Review.


The Singapore IMDA (Info-communications Media Development Authority) eventually flexed its muscle – blocking access to the States Times Review website. But the website can still be accessed via VPN or proxies, just to name a few alternative ways. However, the clash between the Singapore and Facebook continues.

Monika Bickert – Facebook Head of Global Policy Management

On Nov 13, Facebook decided to lecture the Singapore Government a thing or two about freedom of speech and what the Lee administration perceives as fake news. In spite of the country’s criticism against Facebook over its handling of the so-called spread of misinformation, the social media giant stood by its policies which have to be “very objective and black-and-white”.


Ms Monika Bickert, vice-president of Facebook’s product policy division, said that under its existing policy, Facebook will remove inaccurate information circulating on its platform only if it leads to voter suppression or poses a threat of imminent violence. She gave her feedback while attending the first-ever forum in Asia-Pacific on Facebook’s community standards in Singapore.


What this means is there are basically three main categories of content that could possibly violate Facebook standards – hate speech, adult nudity, and dangerous individuals and organisations (terrorism propaganda). Obviously the article published by States Times Review cannot be considered as a violation of adult nudity or terrorism propaganda.

User Using Facebook On iPhone

That would leave the article to hate speech. Even then, Facebook’s hate speech is defined as a direct attack on people based on nine protected characteristics, which include national origin, sexual orientation and caste. Therefore, Facebook could not entertain Singapore’s request to bring down the post criticizing – even accusing – PM Lee of corruption.


At the media session, Ms Bickert also reiterated that Facebook does not have a wholesale policy of removing false content because it would be extremely hard to police whether a specific piece of information is true or false. Furthermore, a private company such as Facebook is in no position to determine whether the content is true or otherwise.


More importantly, Facebook’s policies must be fair and impartial in order to produce consistent outcomes across different users in various parts of the world. Ms Bickert further lectured – “We don’t want policies to apply to certain people but not others. We want everybody around the globe to use Facebook and use it safely.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – 1MDB Corruption - Facebook

In a nutshell, unless articles published on Facebook criticizing or accusing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has the potential to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm, the social media giant’s 7,500 content reviewers would not give a damn. And the potential of voters inspired by such articles voting against Lee government does not count.


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Facebook is full of lies, no doubt about it. It does this by letting toxic, racist comments to fester unhindered. Those 7,500 reviewers mentioned are biased and totally take the western point of view and its allies in all that they scanned.

Even merely saying the Japanese as stupid gets your account banned for a month, while some indian can label Chinese as chink and dog eaters and make disguised racist remarks like ‘open your eyes’, and get away with it.

Try to report fake accounts commenting all over under the news feeds by media organisations and you get a message after waiting a few days or none at all that says: the account did not violate community standards or is not fake, even when it has no friends, no postings, no pictures, and only profile photos of dead objects.

Fakebook sucks. Under political pressure, they will take down so-called ‘Russian interference’ sites even though these news sites are merely criticising Hilary Clinton, as they deemed this to be aiding Trump and is therefore interference.

Yet, posting false accusations on Lee with the intention to sway potential voting results by making people vote PAP less is fine with that Suckerberg.

How many of the 7,500 reviewers are indians?

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