Singapore’s parliament held its first public hearing on ways to crack down on the proliferation of fake news on Wednesday.
The move came after a number of fake news reports in recent years in the nation state.
According to a Green Paper published by the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Communications and Information in January, some resulted in wastage of state resources and incitement of racial and religious tensions.
One instance in 2016 involved the widespread circulation of a photo of a residential building that had reportedly collapsed, prompting civil defense forces, town council personnel and government officials to rush to the scene, only to discover that the building was intact.
Another fake news account emerged in 2015 when a Filipino family had reportedly lodged a complaint with the police about the noise emanating from a traditional Hindu ceremonial procession, leading to a scuffle between police officers and Hindu followers.
The story was found to be fabricated, but not before a slew of xenophobic comments directed at Filipinos appeared online.
According to the paper, the debate has also been sparked by larger global concern about the influence of fake news online.
The ten-member Select Committee, during the hearings, will examine motivations behind the spread of fake news, consequences on democratic institutions and processes, and possible legislative measures.
Slated to take place over eight days, the hearings will receive testimony across a range of voices, including journalists, academics, religious groups and legal experts, from both Singapore and abroad.