Facebook tightens political ad rules in Singapore as election looms

Facebook last year started introducing several similar initiatives in various countries, including the United States and India. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 September 2019

Facebook tightens political ad rules in Singapore as election looms

  • Ads about social issues, elections or politics in Singapore should confirm their identity and location, and disclose who is responsible for the advertisement
  • Singapore has repeatedly said it is vulnerable to foreign interference in its domestic affairs

SINGAPORE: Social media giant Facebook Inc. said on Thursday it had implemented new rules for political advertisements in Singapore ahead of an election in the city-state expected within months.
The new rules require those who want to run ads about social issues, elections or politics in Singapore to confirm their identity and location, and disclose who is responsible for the advertisement.
Facebook will also require “Paid for by” disclaimers in advertisements, which will be stored in a searchable online library for seven years.
Under pressure from authorities around the world, Facebook last year started introducing several similar initiatives in various countries, including the United States and India, to increase oversight of political ads.
Singapore — which has been ruled by the People’s Action Party since it split from Malaysia in 1965 — has repeatedly said it is vulnerable to foreign interference in its domestic affairs.


Rappler journalist Ressa launches defense in Philippine libel case

Updated 16 December 2019

Rappler journalist Ressa launches defense in Philippine libel case

  • Rappler has written extensively and often critically on President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies
  • Maria Ressa, named a Time Person of the Year in 2018 for her journalism, did not testify in court

MANILA: Philippine journalist Maria Ressa said Monday she would not be silenced as she launched her defense against a libel charge that press advocates call an attempt to curb her news site’s critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Her site Rappler has written extensively and often critically on Duterte’s policies, including his deadly drugs war that rights groups say may amount to crimes against humanity.
“I can go to jail for 12 years for this (case), that is the maximum sentence,” she told reporters outside court after the hearing, noting government investigators had initially dismissed the case.
“From track record you can see the political goals to shut Rappler up ... but we haven’t shut up yet,” said Ressa, who is free on bail.
Besides the libel case, Ressa and Rappler have been hit with a string of criminal charges in the span of roughly a year, prompting allegations that authorities are targeting her and her team for their work.
Ressa, named a Time Person of the Year in 2018 for her journalism, did not testify in court.
The case centers on a Rappler report from 2012 about a businessman’s alleged ties to a then-judge of the nation’s top court.
Government investigators initially dismissed the businessman’s 2017 complaint about the article, but state prosecutors later decided to file charges.
The legal underpinning of the charge is a controversial “cybercrime law” aimed at online offenses ranging from hacking and Internet fraud to child pornography.
In court on Monday, Ressa’s defense team highlighted investigators’ initial decision not to pursue the case, and her insulation from Rappler’s daily news decisions.
“As an executive editor, she does not really edit,” Chay Hofilena, a Rappler investigative journalist, told the court.
The government has repeatedly said the case has nothing to do with politics, adding that no one is above the law.
However, Duterte has in speeches lashed out at Rappler and other critical media outfits, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper and broadcaster ABS-CBN.
He threatened to go after their owners over alleged unpaid taxes or block the network’s franchise renewal application.
Rights monitor Reporters Without Borders ranked the Philippines at 134 out of 178 countries on its annual “World Press Freedom” index this year, when at least three journalists were killed “most likely by agents working for local politicians.”