Singapore GE2020: Facebook removes illegal election ad after IMDA notice

New Naratif had placed a programmatic paid advertisement on Facebook that continued to be available after Nomination Day.
New Naratif had placed a programmatic paid advertisement on Facebook that continued to be available after Nomination Day.PHOTO: REUTERS

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has notified Facebook to remove an unauthorised paid election advertisement published on the social media platform by website New Naratif, the Elections Department (ELD) said yesterday.

New Naratif had placed a programmatic paid advertisement on Facebook that continued to be available after Nomination Day, and this amounted to election advertising. In doing so, it was deemed to be conducting election activity as defined in the Parliamentary Elections Act, although New Naratif was not authorised by any candidate or election agent to conduct election activity.

IMDA, the assistant Returning Officer, thus issued a notice to Facebook to remove the unauthorised paid online election ad.

New Naratif is co-founded by historian Thum Ping Tjin and freelance journalist Kirsten Han.

Facebook has removed the ad, which IMDA did not give details of.

Election advertising is defined as any material that can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure the electoral success for political parties or candidates, or to otherwise enhance the standing of any such political parties or candidates with the electorate in connection with any election.

The ELD reiterated that the publishing of paid online election advertising requires authorisation by a candidate or an election agent from the start of the campaign period, which starts after proceedings end on Nomination Day.

"This ensures accountability, and prevents paid advertisements from being used as a conduit for foreign interference in the elections process, or for political parties and candidates to bypass the election expense limits," it said.

 
 
 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2020, with the headline 'Facebook removes illegal election ad after IMDA notice'. Print Edition | Subscribe