I’m sure your parents and teachers have told you to “always be careful with what you post on the internet”.
Because once it’s up there and people have seen it, it’s never really going to go away. (Screenshots come in handy here.)
Even if you delete it and come up with an apology to acknowledge that you were wrong, you should probably know that people on the internet are not exactly very forgiving.
Unfortunately, the Media Literacy Council (MLC) had to learn that the hard way.
Now, lest you’re not aware, the MLC is responsible for “public education on media literacy and cyber wellness, and advises the government on appropriate policy responses to the evolving world of media, technology, and consumer participation.”
In other words, they’re the go-to to learn about using the Internet in Singapore.
MLC Takes Down Post Calling Satire & Clickbait Fake News
In case you’re not too sure what’s going on, MLC published a post last Thursday, 5 September 2019, classifying satire and clickbait under fake news.
Netizens were not too happy about this, and many started to express their disagreement in the comment section of that post and a few of their following posts.
Okay, “not too happy” is an understatement. I meant to say they were fuming.
The post promoted “Get Smart with Sherlock”, which is MLC’s fact-check kit, and it also featured a cartoon figure that resembles fictional private detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Apologises For “Wrong Impression”
MLC took down the post, and posted an apology a few days later, on 8 September 2019.
They acknowledged that their post and infographic “gave the wrong impression that satire was fake news”, although it “was not the intent”.
Their post was meant to “raise 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”.
However, netizens were rather disappointed with the apology that they had come up with and continued to express their disapproval in the comments.
See, this is a good example of why you shouldn’t anyhow post things on the internet.
Comments Regarding POFMA
Associate Professor Leong Ching, dean of students at the National University of Singapore, wrote in her own public Facebook post that MLC should print a retraction and correction.
“The truth is, satire is NOT fake news. It is exempt from POFMA,” she added.
Many others also brought up the fact that the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation (POFMA) Bill, which was passed on May 2019, only covers false statement of facts, and does not cover criticisms, opinions, satire, and parody.
Before posting their apology, MLC responded to one of the comments on their post regarding POFMA.
It explained that while POFMA defines a falsehood as a statement of fact that is false or misleading and does not extend to opinions, criticisms, satire or parody, the examples in the kit represent other possible scenarios in which fake news can be spread.
But of course, this clarification did not do much to appease netizens, which is why they had to end up taking down the post and posting a public apology on their Facebook page.
Yikes. Looks like MLC’s not going to be able to get themselves out of this mess for a while.
And just so you know, clickbait isn’t fake news as well.
Annoying, yes, but not fake news. So we’re not fake news #didwejustadmitweclickbait?