Three days after posting an infographic listing satire as one of the forms in which fake news can be propagated, the Media Literacy Council (MLC) received further backlash for its apology, in which the Council assured that it did not intend to give “the wrong impression” that satire was fake news.
MLC said in a Facebook post on Sun (8 Sep) that the infographic was aimed at raising “awareness among youths and the general public about the need to be aware of the ways in which misinformation or fake news can be spread”, adding that it was also meant to “encourage readers to understand the context in which information is presented”.
“We acknowledge that the post and infographic gave the wrong impression that satire was fake news, which was not the intent. We are sorry for the confusion and will review our material,” said MLC.
While the infographic has since been removed by MLC on its page, NUSSU – NUS Students United, a Facebook page that is not officially affiliated with the National University of Singapore, retained the screenshot of the infographic that it had posted on Sat (7 Sep).
NUSSU – NUS Students United highlighted in a Facebook post on Sat the discrepancy between MLC’s infographic and the statement of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).
Mr Shanmugam previously assured the public that POFMA will only encompass false statements of fact, or such statements attempted to be conveyed as factual material, and will not target opinions, criticism, parody and satire.
“Maybe the MLC is trying to make a satire of spreading fake news that satire is fake news. Or maybe it is just pure incompetence.
“Or worse, now that POFMA has passed, maybe satire, parody and opinions critical of the government ARE considered fake news now,” NUSSU – NUS Students United said.
The page also lambasted MLC for its apology on Sun, calling it “shameful” to blame readers and observers for supposedly getting the wrong impression of the Council’s infographic instead of unequivocally acknowledging that it has made “a clear cut false statement of fact” by saying that satire is fake news:
Other commenters made a similar observation:
Veteran journalist Bertha Henson also chimed in to express her disappointment regarding the error in MLC’s infographic, arguing that the mistake “only confirms fears that satire will be seen as fake news”:
One commenter suggested MLC to “take a leaf out of Finland’s book” in terms of making effective and accurate infographics on media literacy:
One netizen, in a tongue-in-cheek remark, joked that the incident has at least demonstrated that the public is taking heed of MLC’s advice to “point it out” whenever they encounter “fake news”: