Facebook will need to answer if any of its current staff in Singapore have political affiliations with the ruling People’s Action Party.
In a statement released by the Singapore Democratic Party on 29 March, the party has sought answers from the social media giant.
See post on its website. The clarifications sought include:
- Whether the Singapore government has requested for information on users and, if so, when and on what grounds.
- Whether any political party in Singapore have requested for information on users and, if so, when and on what grounds.
- Whether any group or individual either formally or informally affiliated to any political party in Singapore received data from Cambridge Analytica or any other similar organisation that might have used information taken from Facebook especially during the periods of the 2015 general election or the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election.
- Whether Facebook can make public the list of advertisements made by the Singapore government on Facebook and the amounts paid for these advertisements especially during the periods of the 2015 general election or the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election.
- Whether Facebook can make public the list of political parties and other political actors who have advertised on Facebook including the amounts paid for these advertisements especially during the periods of the 2015 general election or the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election.
- Whether any of the senior positions in Facebook’s Singapore office are occupied by persons who are actively involved with, or identified as potential election candidates of, any political party in Singapore.
Of all questions, perhaps number 6 can be answered easily.
While not naming anyone in its question 6 to Facebook, it can be revealed that Facebook Director of Policy (Southeast Asia) Alvin Tan is one who has been identified as a potential candidate.
In an earlier Straits Times report, it was stated that Tan was one of 200 hopefuls from the PAP who are being interviewed to be fielded as candidates for the PAP at the next GE.
Apart from his role at Facebook, Tan has been active at the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng area, a ward currently held by Dr Lily Neo under the Jalan Besar GRC.
According to his public Facebook page, he has been active at the grassroots in the area, seen alongside Dr Neo very frequently.
Tan was also seen alongside Simon Milner, Facebook’s Vice President of Public Policy during the Select Committee hearing on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
The question which Facebook needs to answer is how would Tan treats confidential information which he may have access to especially if he is aligned with the ruling party in Singapore.
How and what steps does Facebook take to ensure objectivity especially since Tan is a paid staff of Facebook, which has access to confidential information with regard to its users.
Facebook also needs to explain how it treats political parties objectively, and what steps it takes to ensure that confidential information isn’t used or shared by any of its staff with the dominant party.