Klareco Insights on Fake News
Fake News and its implications on businesses
Fake news is impacting politics, public health, the media, and businesses around the world. While misinformation has always existed, the rapid proliferation of online platforms is spreading fake news faster and further than ever before. The regulatory response is also accelerating. In the past 18 months alone, countries such as France, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Singapore have passed legislation designed to combat fake news.
How is this climate affecting businesses and their communication practices? Our 4th July 2019 Klareco Breakfast Insights on fake news sought to answer this questions with an exclusive group of top decision makers from the finance, technology, and professional services sectors at a breakfast meeting in Parkroyal on Pickering.
Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA): Protecting Against False Statements of Fact that Harm the Public Interest
It was our privilege to host Mr. Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and of Health, where his legal and political insights on online falsehoods proffered broader perspectives on dealing with fake news.
SMS Edwin Tong contextualised the recently-tabled Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), and succinctly covered the Act’s intent, scope, and uses. In a landscape where falsehoods are often used to stoke negative emotions, and are weaponised by state-sponsored actors, POFMA is designed to protect the public interest from being harmed by the spread of false statements of fact online. It relies on existing case law to distinguish between a “statement of fact” and an “opinion”; and does not cover the latter. It also does not cover all false statements of fact, only those that harm the public interest.
One of many key learnings was how POFMA enables corrections to be used as the primary response in most situations, rather than takedowns. The falsehood can remain up, so long as a correction is also put up alongside it. People can read the falsehood and the Government’s correction, and decide for themselves what to believe.
What constitutes a “false statement of fact” will ultimately be determined by Singapore’s courts upon an appeal, which will be fast-tracked, and for individuals, will be relatively inexpensive. Singapore’s courts may also, on judicial review, overturn a direction under POFMA if it was made for reasons other than the public interest.
POFMA’s design and intent are to protect the freedom of individuals and entities to have contestation of opinions, while also giving the public the necessary protection against fast-moving, divisive falsehoods today.
Asking ourselves the harder questions to fight Fake News
SMS Edwin Tong’s presentation was followed by Klareco’s insight – presented by our CEO and co-founder Ang Shih-Huei – around the concrete actions businesses should take to protect themselves from becoming a victim of Fake News.
Several practical examples for businesses included the considerations needed to have a robust defence against falsehoods towards businesses. Attendees had a first-hand understanding on the principles of proportionality through real-life case studies: what would have been a formal press statement against Fake News could be addressed with a well-measured social media post, and how an authentic communications approach builds and maintains reputational resilience.
As a parting gift, the communicators and business leaders in the room were invited to reassess their systems in place, where they had the opportunity to:
- Rethink the ‘golden hour’ of communications
- Consider their response team’s plans
- Learn about building a bank of goodwill for the times ahead
- Arm their staff with the armour of truth – through employee engagement
- Realise how authentic interactions are perceived in the public’s eye
- Find the right balance to creative yet proportionate responses to Fake News
We’d like to thank SMS Edwin Tong for his time towards our latest installment of Klareco Breakfast Insights, where our invite-only breakfast events explore the business world’s most current topics and latest developments in the communications space across a wide spectrum of industries and sectors.
Stay tuned for our next event.