SINGAPORE — A female administrator of website Truth Warriors has been issued a Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) conditional warning for publishing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines.
The 47-year-old had made statements "knowing or having reason to believe that they are false and likely to harm the public interest", the Pofma office in a press statement said on Wednesday (31 August).
Such false claims misled people into thinking that vaccines were not effective in reducing the transmission rates of the novel coronavirus, the office added.
Among the claims published on Truth Warriors were that highly-vaccinated countries have the most cases and deaths per million population and that vaccines do not prevent the transmission of COVID-19. It shared user-collated and unverified data on suspected vaccine injuries in Singapore, citing the “SG Suspected Vaccine Injuries” Telegram group as its source.
Many of the materials published on the website also promoted the alleged safety and efficacy of ivermectin – commonly used as a de-wormer for horses – in preventing viral infections and treating the novel coronavirus.
Medical experts have warned against taking ivermectin as it can lead to side effects including vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, dizziness, seizures, and confusion. Individuals can also suffer from a sudden drop in blood pressure, severe skin rash potentially requiring hospitalisation, and liver injury, such as hepatitis.
On 24 October last year, the Pofma office issued Truth Warriors a direction to carry correction notices on its website to inform Singaporeans of the falsehoods.
During investigations, the woman claimed she had checked the credentials of original authors for the articles but admitted that she cannot be certain whether the information published was true, the office said in Wednesday's press statement.
"After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Pofma office issued a 12-month conditional warning to the woman for the charges," it added.
If the woman reoffends during this period, she can be prosecuted for the original crime.
Under Pofma, she could be fined up to $50,000 or face a maximum jail term of five years, or both.
"Online falsehoods that sow public confusion affect lives and harm society. The government takes a serious view of the deliberate communication of these false statements," said the office.
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