MCI takes out FB ad on video Punggol Waterway Terraces collapse hoax to justify POFMA, but FB users point out that it is a bad example for a terrible law

The Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI) has taken out a Facebook ad titled, 'Get real about fake news', The ad is taken out after the PAP-controlled Parliament passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation (POFMA) Bill, with all opposition Members of Parliament voting against the Bill.

The ad draws attention to the viral hoax that Punggol Waterway Terraces had collapsed. The ad said "the hoax triggered anxiety amongst the residents", and urged Singaporeans to "say no to fake news".

It is unfortunate that a website published such an unverified report, and it is certainly unacceptable that it caused much anxiety to the residents of the development (and to all Singaporeans). The publishers and the editors of the website acted irresponsibly in posting the report of the 'collapse' without proper verification, and no one should make any excuses for them for this.

The persons responsible for the the website however, did the right thing once they discovered that the 'news' they put up was fake. They took down the unverified, fake news after 20 minutes.

It is unclear if POFMA with all the power it has given to the cabinet Ministers, is able to deal with fake news with the same speed the publishers and editors of the website - All Singapore Stuff (ASS) - voluntarily dealt with it, the moment they realised that it was fake.

And also, as one Hardware Zone forumer pointed out by posting his own photograph, the roof of Punggol Waterway could have appeared collapsed due to an optical illusion. Regardless of it was an optical illusion or not, the publishers and editors of the website acted swiftly on the fake news and took it down within 20 minutes. 

This may suggest that the publishers and editors did not have any malicious intent to disrupt society here in Singapore. Their error could only be that of not fact-checking and wasting the Government agencies’ resources as a result.

Source: ASS

In contrast, the Housing & Development Board (HDB), only came out with clarification on the hoax at about 5.45pm - or more than 2 hours and 15 minutes after the hoax surfaced. Here is the Straits Times' timeline of how the fake story got called out.

Source: ST

Could the concerned Government agencies have responded sooner to the hoax and saved the residents some anxiety and unnecessary heartache?

Others have pointed out that the Punggol Waterway Terraces collapse hoax is the only local case the Government has used to justify POFMA. If so, it is a poor excuse for the pushing through of the law.

Anyway, most Facebook users who responded to the MCI's video posted on Facebook on 14 May said the Punggol Waterway Terraces collapse hoax is a bad example to push POFMA through in the PAP-dominated parliament.

Here are some of the responses from Facebook users who saw MCI's video:

I agree with them.