9th June 2023 – (Singapore) Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has ordered Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, to review and remove content containing child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) on Facebook. According to IMDA, Meta took down the offending page and group within 24 hours.
This marks the first time that IMDA has notified a social media service of such content, following the amendments to the Broadcasting Act last November to include enhanced online safety requirements. The police had alerted the agency to a Facebook page that was part of an online network facilitating the sharing of CSEM, where it subsequently uncovered a Facebook group carrying similar posts.
IMDA directed internet service providers in Singapore to block a linked website that enabled access and distribution of similar content. Parliament passed the Online Safety Act last year, requiring social media sites to block access to harmful content within hours. The law empowers IMDA to deal with harmful online content accessible to Singapore users, regardless of where the content is hosted or initiated.
The Act came into effect on February 1 this year, and it requires online communication services to swiftly detect and remove harmful online content on their platforms. The police and IMDA take a serious view on the solicitation and distribution of CSEM, which is a type of egregious content as defined under the amended Broadcasting Act, said the agency.
Other forms of content that fall under the ambit of this law include those advocating terrorism, suicide and self-harm, as well as content posing a public health risk or those likely to cause racial and religious disharmony in Singapore.
IMDA said it would not hesitate to issue directions to social media services if they do not swiftly detect and remove egregious content on their platforms. “Social media services, too, have a responsibility to ensure online safety for all users, particularly children,” IMDA said.
“We recognise that the industry has taken active steps in recent years to combat harmful online content on social media, and urge social media services to remain vigilant in detecting and preventing the dissemination of harmful online content through their platforms and services.”
IMDA added that it would continue to work closely with social media services to enhance Singapore’s online safety.