Well, this is embarrassing.
A government-linked council set up to foster media literacy in Singapore apologized yesterday after drawing plenty of flak over the course of three days for listing satire as a form of “fake news” in an infographic posted to Facebook on Thursday.
The infographic by the Media Literacy Council (MLC), ostensibly designed to educate and create awareness on various types of fake news, listed satire right alongside false context, imposter content, manipulated content, misleading content, and clickbait (though obviously not all clickbait articles contain fake news).
In its apology, MLC said that it was not their intent to give “the wrong impression that satire was fake news,” adding that they were sorry for the “confusion” and would “review” their content.
Their apology didn’t sit well with some netizens, including popular blogger Benjamin Lee aka Mr Miyagi, who criticized the council for even trying to defend their “ignorance,” adding that it was time to “disband” the 7-year-old MLC, which is supported by the Info-Communications Media Development Authority.
I think it’s time to disband the Media Literacy Council. It was enough they demonstrated their ignorance. It is unforgivable that they try to defend it. Also, when was this sham council created anyway?
— Mr Miyagi (@miyagi) September 8, 2019
The now-deleted Facebook post in question was up on MLC’s page for three days, garnering more than 300 shares and 200 comments by late Sunday afternoon.
Others called out MLC for being a source of fake news including well-known blogger Mr Brown.
“Dear Media Literacy Council, are you kidding me? Satire is not fake news lah! … You den is fake news! (sic),” he posted yesterday on his Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
— mrbrown (@mrbrown) September 8, 2019
Meanwhile, some netizens also took a jab at the MLC in tongue-in-cheek style. Some might even call it … satire?
One post on social media page YEOLO did a parody of MLC’s Facebook post, listing MLC’s “misleading infographics” along with other “fake news” that Singaporeans have encountered in their lives, including that “unbelievable” S$54 phone deal by Huawei, which made waves back in July when they didn’t warn their customers about limited stocks, forcing thousands of mostly the elderly to be turned away from their stores.
While the new anti-fake news law that was passed earlier in May did not list the types of content considered as falsehoods, law minister K Shanmugam has previously said that satire, parody, criticism, and opinion are not targeted by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, or POFMA, local media reported.
For what it’s worth, sometimes even satire can be misinterpreted by the more credulous sorts among us. There have been multiple instances of US-based satire site The Onion being mistaken for actual stories by outlets that didn’t do their due diligence — and clearly lacked a funny bone.