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Most support MCI’s proposed online harm rules, seek transparency on handling of flagged content

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SINGAPORE – Online users here want more transparency on why potentially harmful content flagged to social media services is sometimes left online without any update on the decision taken or whether there is an appeal process.

This was a key finding from a public consultation service of 600 parents, young people, industry groups and other respondents between July 13 and Aug 10.

Most respondents supported the Ministry of Communications and Information’s (MCI) proposed measures to enhance online safety for social media users here, especially young people.

Under the proposed Code of Practice for Online Safety, online platforms will be required to put in place additional safeguards to protect young users from harmful online content.

The second proposed code, Content Code for Social Media Services, will also give the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) powers to direct any social media platform to disable access to certain content for users in Singapore should such content slip through the cracks.

The proposed rules will require online platforms to put in place additional safeguards to protect young users from harmful online content.

It will also give the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) powers to direct any social media platform to disable access to certain content for users in Singapore should such content slip through the cracks.

In findings published on Thursday, respondents mostly agreed with the proposal for social media platforms to reduce exposure to harmful online content for local users.

Many respondents expressed concerns over the same online harms that are the focus of MCI’s measures, such as cyber bullying and explicit sexual content.

MCI said: “Parents expressed concern over viral social media content featuring dangerous pranks and challenges that could be copied by their children.”

For example, a 10-year-old Italian girl died in 2021 after taking part in an online “blackout challenge” that encouraged users to choke themselves until they pass out.

Other respondents said they were concerned about harmful advertisements, online gaming, scams, misinformation and online impersonation.

Penalties should be imposed on services that do not comply, said some respondents, while others sought assurances that the measures would not affect user privacy or freedom of expression.

MCI said: “We will need to find the right balance between prioritizing user safety and managing privacy and freedom of expression.”

It will continue to study other issues raised, even as the current focus is on tackling harmful online content that appears on social media services, it added.

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