Fake News And The Believability Index


By: B Goode


If someone was to tell us that an airplane had just crashed on the ECP, we might believe it because it was possible.

But if someone was to tell us that God exists  a whale had appeared off the coast of Changi and swallowed a supertanker, we’d say bullshit!

Therein lies the problem in ascertaining whether something is fake or not. It is on sliding scale of possibility or believability.

Take the case of the article written by The States Times Review (STR) about PM Lee conniving with Najib vis a vis the 1MDB scandal which was posted on facebook.  (No. I am not going to link it. You want me to die or what?) Of course and rightly so, the government came out strongly to deny it and even asked facebook to delete the offending article. Facebook, again rightly so, gave an emphatic `NO!’.

You see, as far as facebook is concerned, the world does not revolve around Singapore. Facebook have close to 1 billion users and in one day, Facebook could have billions of posts and comments from all over the world, excluding everybody’s favourite country, China of course.

So how the hell could Facebook know that a news was fake if the offending party did not argue its case with facts. Just to say that something is fake does not make it fake.

So apparently facebook took the middle ground in allowing the article to remain but also allowing the government to state its case. It is just like LKY’s famous right of reply. Remember that?

Before the advent of the internet, news articles were published on …. paper (shocking!). The government stand then was that if something offensive was published by a news journal etc, the government would have the right of reply to debunk it.

So in this case, did facebook  gave the government a right of reply? Yes! So what’s the problem?

Why didn’t Facebook took the government’s advice to simply delete the post? The reason was because the things written in that offending article were possible and believable. Whether they were true or fake was for the government to prove.

Why were they believable? Firstly, PM Lee is human. Secondly, he is a politician. Thirdly, whether you like it or not he is in a very powerful position. In short, if PM Lee wanted to, and I am not saying that he wanted to, he could have done whatever that was alleged in STR’s offending article.

And another thing, if Facebook was to delete every single post that every government in the world asked them to delete, what would there be left of facebook? Only posts by aunties showing off their lunches and dinners…


The government has sung praises about disruptors. But when they themselves got disrupted, they cry mother, cry father. WTF!

Instead of using a sledgehammer to kill the messenger, the government should instead learn to navigate the internet platforms and find ways to use them to its advantage. In the case of the STR’s article, the government should take the time and the opportunity to explain why it was fake.

For what it’s worth, it might perhaps teach the government a thing or two about critical thinking instead of only thinking about how to milk the people.

This entry was posted in All Posts, News, Opinions, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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