Satire & fake news in Singapore

Undoubtedly one of the century’s hottest buzzword, fake news is ubiquitous in its colossal presence and influence all over the world, making waves across domestic and international discourses of politics, media, social media, governments… literally, everywhere and anywhere.

From the alleged claims of a collapsed roof at Punggol Waterway Terraces to recent news purporting the pervasiveness of monkeypox in Singapore earlier this May, it is apparent that fake news has made its official thrust onto our shores.

However, are Singaporeans able to sieve out fake news amidst the plethora of accessible information in today’s highly connected world? What about satire, the infamous commonly mistaken cousin of fake news? To address this arresting question, Black Dot Research conducted an online poll with our panel of respondents to assess their understanding towards the topic of fake news and satire in Singapore.

Fake news and satire – same same or different?

Our poll amassed a total of 89 responses with equitable representations across race, gender, age groups and education levels. It revealed respondents to be generally conversant in issues relating to fake news and satire in Singapore, including associated penal frameworks.

Over half (62%) were aware of the regulatory Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), and majority (78%) were able to correctly identify cases that fall under the scope of POFMA from a list of four options.

Most of the respondents were also able to distinguish types of content which constituted fake news, as well as fake headlines. Only less than half mistakenly perceived satire (35%) and erroneously reported news (43%) as forms of fake news. This is a heartening finding especially amidst popular misunderstandings and confusion between the two terms.

Relatedly, respondents could also weed out fake headlines from a list of both factually published and fabricated headlines, revealing general acuteness towards discerning different types and forms of fake news in the event if they were to encounter it.

Equal proportions of respondents (29%) felt that the erosion of trust and confidence in authorities and media, and the production of a rift between racial and religious communities were the most baleful impacts of fake news. The advancing of agendas by malicious actors (25%) came in third as the biggest threat of fake news.

With recent societal discussions on satire, it was also encouraging to learn that most respondents were able to accurately identify satire, satirical headlines as well as websites they could potentially obtain satirical information, with only a small proportion (12%) indicating that they did not know how to.

42% and 39% of respondents also rightly felt that they can find satirical content on websites such as All Singapore Stuff and The Onion respectively, albeit the latter being a prominent satirical online platform based in Chicago. This reflects the ease of accessing digital information across once-thought impossible global boundaries, as information is made instantaneously available with a few clicks of a button.

What is still real today?

The enormous influence of fake news in today’s society and world is one that is unquestionable but yet, is that the be-all and end-all? With its end game yet in sight, it is crucial for us to develop healthy skepticism as we continue to wade through the overwhelming sea of information that incessantly presents itself every second. We hope that our poll has served a timely reminder on the necessity of critical thinking in today’s digital age and economy, and that, is certainly not #fakenews. Share your thoughts with us at feedback@blackdotresearch.sg.

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