No policy “that prohibits alleged falsehoods”: Facebook on refusal to remove States Times Review post

No policy “that prohibits alleged falsehoods”: Facebook on refusal to remove States Times Review post

Following its refusal to take down a post by States Times Review (STR) which contained allegations of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), social media giant Facebook has revealed the reason behind its course of action.

Responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia, a spokesperson for Facebook said: “We have a responsibility to handle any government request to restrict alleged misinformation carefully and thoughtfully, consistent with our approach to government requests around the world.

The spokesperson added: “We do not have a policy that prohibits alleged falsehoods, apart from in situations where this content has the potential to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm.”

Vice president of product policy at Facebook Monika Bicker told reporters at a roundtable on Tuesday (13 Nov) that “We don’t have a policy of removing false content. We will generally try to counter the virality and surface educational content.

“There are those two exceptions, where it’s very tied to voter suppression or the imminent threat of physical violence in the offline world.”

She elaborated: “Other than that, I will say that we do have a process through which governments can submit (something) to us if they think that something violates their laws and we have dialogues with governments back and forth on that.

“We have a legal team that analyses those requests and then we publish the results of those requests and whether we have removed content – we publish that in a report that we put out every six months,” she concluded.

Earlier this month on 5 Nov, the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) has declared that the controversial article published on States Times Review (STR) is “baseless and defamatory,” and has subsequently ordered a takedown of the article by 5pm on 9 Nov.

In the same press release, IMDA added that it “has also asked Facebook to deny access to the post” linked to the article.

Singapore’s Ministry of Law said in response to Facebook’s inaction that the social media platform “cannot be relied upon to filter falsehoods or protect Singapore from a false information campaign.”

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