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Tackling Online Falsehoods: Balancing Legislation and Self-Regulation

Aug 9, 2023 | 0 comments

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Aug 9, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Online falsehood intentionally spreads false information to attack an individual or a public institution (Klein & Wueller, 2017). Online falsehoods aim to plant disharmony amongst different faction groups, which include ethnic, religious and racial groups. Yuen-C (2018) defines online falsehood as an intentional publication of false content online. It is in the public domain that parody and satire are protected by law. Therefore, the fundamental legal analysis applied to arrive after falsehood information is often compelling and precise to the fact and is often analysed on a case by case form (Ong, 2018).


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The incentive that drives the extent of online falsehood is neither complete nor contemporary. Still, online falsehood is majorly used by the actors of foreign states that seek to sway crooked individuals in an attempt to make a quick buck. Domestic politics had all contributed intentionally to fake news way before the internet was discovered (Ong, 2018). The only noticeable changes are the intermediary at which the fake news spread in the current world internet has been an effective medium as it provides the path which is efficient and that all the social media engine connects to. According to Hermesauto (2018), the capability of an online platform, with its universal nature, has enhanced the spread of falsehood news, which can now reach a virtually unrestricted audience within a short period and even in real time.

Levinson (2018) thought that enacting more laws to curb online falsehood does not offer a solution. Still, it complicates the process as it causes a collision with the current laws. When more laws are enacted to control online falsehood, there is a risk that it would compromise the freedom of speech and expression, which is fundamental in the bill of Rights. Enacting a new law would restrict free speech and choke legitimate dissenting opinions (CNA/KK, 2018). The bill of rights takes precedence, and in this matter, the new law would collide with the freedom of expression and speech, allowing citizens to air their views and opinions without fear of being prosecuted. Socially it’s healthy for society to accommodate various views as it enhances maturity and respect for humanity for who they are together with their opinion. In addition, the existing laws already inflict too much pressure on the freedom of expression, and it’s adequate to tackle deliberate online falsehood (Baker, 2018).

Furthermore, the existing Singapore laws have comprehensively defined and elaborated on the demarcation of freedom of speech and expression in a way that can cater for the online fake news menace. According to CNA/KK (2018), the existing law addresses defamation, hate speech, and spreading false information. All these laws are in Singapore laws under the Telecommunication act, Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, Penal code and Protection from Harassment Act. Baker (2018) stated that it’s cumbersome to find a solution which in this case should be technical, to legislate the online platform; instead of enacting new laws, there is a need to adopt an innovative and iterative way of approaching this issue.

Prescribing new laws will also mean that the internet service providers will be turned into judges as they would be liable to assess every speech to determine which one is acceptable under the new law, a function that the courts should tackle with the use of the existing comprehensive legislation (Hermesauto, 2018).
On the other hand, enacting new laws to some extent is the only viable solution that needs to be considered to tackle online falsehood. The virality nature of online falsehood and the gross impact it can create makes the current legislation ineffective. It can only be combatted by enacting new laws specific to it (Sen & Yi, 2018). The current legislative tools are limited and rigid in that they cannot tackle the speed and adaptability nature of online falsehood in its current state. For instance, Cambridge analytical has been accused of interfering with different elections based on fabricated lies and disseminating them to the mass, a good example is an American election. The damage done was so dire that, according to the experts, it influenced or subverted the majority will of the people through lies. According to Sen and Yi (2018), the current judicial process takes time, and it isn’t easy to catch up with the speed and impact at which false news spreads via the internet. The impact is often irreversible, hence a new law that would act more accurately to control the damage.

Social media companies or platforms are best placed to control the dissemination of information on their platform; depending on the platform, they have control of their users and can get the information (Levinson, 2018). Based on this fact, online laws that would compel online platforms like Twitter and Facebook to assess information online and eliminate any falsehood information should be enacted to tackle falsehood. The new laws should be well calibrated to the extent that they would comprehensively cover a range of intentional online falsehoods. According to Sen and Yi (2018), the law should not be too broad but specific so that it does not overlap with the freedom of speech in the bill of Rights. In other words, the new law’s focus should be on the dimension of issues caused by the technology rather than the new modules of illegal speech.

In conclusion, having considered both arguments, I think that the current laws are enough, and self-regulation is the best way to deal with false news. Social media platforms should be encouraged to come up with an algorithm that is capable of identifying and eliminating the news which is considered to be fake. In addition, the false statement has not just started recently. It’s been there for ages the best way to tackle it is the rationality of the human mind. The major component in the fight against fake news is to feed our rationality with adequate information, which among them include the truth which will enlighten the citizen, and this would mean fighting any effort by the government to ensure the information does not reach the citizens. In addition, when the government allows a citizen to access multiple sources of information, they will develop a critical mindset that will help them assess the truth from false and, to a greater extent, whether the source of information is independent or official.


Baker, J. A. (2018, March 28). Refresh current legislation rather than introduce new laws to deal with fake news, says a legal expert. Retrieved from www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/eugene-tan-refresh-legislation-rather-than-new-laws-fake-news-10083758
CNA/KK. (2018, March 22). Deliberate online falsehoods: Are Singapore’s laws sufficient to deal with the threat? Retrieved from www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/deliberate-online-falsehoods-are-Singapore-s-laws-sufficient-to-10043024
Hermesauto, H. (2018, March 27). No need for new laws to counter online falsehoods, activists tell Select Committee. Retrieved from www.straitstimes.com/politics/no-need-for-new-laws-to-counter-online-falsehoods-activists-tell-select-committee
Klein, D., & Wueller, J. (2017, May 01). Fake News: A Legal Perspective. Retrieved from www.kleinmoynihan.com/fake-news-a-legal-perspective/
Levinson, P. (2018, September 19). Government regulation of social media would be a ‘cure’ far worse than the disease. Retrieved from theconversation.com/government-regulation-of-social-media-would-be-a-cure-far-worse-than-the-disease-86911
Ong, J. (2018, March 27). Non-mainstream media journalists call for the Freedom of Information Act to fight fake news. Retrieved from www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/independent-alternative-media-toc-fake-news-committee-10080122
Sen, N. J., & Yi, S. B. (2018, March 31). New law key to fighting viral online falsehoods. Retrieved from www.straitstimes.com/politics/new-law-key-to-fighting-viral-online-falsehoods
Yuen-C, T. (2018, March 31). Defining online falsehoods. Retrieved from www.straitstimes.com/politics/defining-online-falsehoods

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