Singapore website Mothership apologised late Tuesday (8 August) for publishing a “wrong” article about presidential hopeful Salleh Marican.
In a Facebook post, the site said the article was based on a Facebook post from a page “masquerading as a fan page” but was actually not linked to Salleh’s campaign efforts.
Mothership said it initially made corrections to the article but eventually decided to take it down completely. The site did not further describe the article.
“We are sincerely sorry for this grave error, and have also extended our deepest apologies to Mr Salleh’s campaign team,” wrote Mothership, one of 11 websites that has an individual license from the Info-communications Media Development Authority.
In a report about the fake news on Salleh, The Straits Times said the Mothership article published on Tuesday was titled “Presidential hopeful Salleh Marican makes his first move, brings up the hijab issue”.
“The piece wrongly attributed to Mr Salleh comments on the Facebook page, on how the hijab was not part of the Malay dress code before the 1970s and increasing religiosity in the Middle East and around the region has eroded Malay culture in Singapore,” according to the ST report.
Salleh on fake news
When contacted by Yahoo News Singapore, Salleh said in an emailed statement that his team alerted him to a supposed Facebook community page “Salleh for President” and that they reached out to the individual who started the page in the hope he would bring it down.
As the individual remained uncontactable, the team escalated the issue to Facebook, and as of Wednesday (9 August), the page has been taken down and Salleh’s own Facebook page has been verified with a blue tick, according to the statement.
Salleh’s team had also alerted Mothership that their story was based on a fake FB page and that hence they were spinning fake news.
On how it felt to be a victim of fake news, Salleh, who is also CEO of Second Chance Properties, said that fake news was not a new phenomenon but its relevance “has increased in a post-truth political reality”.
“Our recourse? Check the sources, the authors. Fake news is a reality and the best way is to react decisively and clearly that there is no space here for such news in Singapore,” he added.
In June, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that new laws to combat fake news would likely be introduced next year.