SINGAPORE: May Liu’s halal-certified yong tau foo stall at Westgate mall was open for just six months when it was rocked by fake news alleging that it sold a pork dish.
Someone had snapped a picture of her stall in a way that suggested it was advertising a pork belly dish, when, in fact, the poster had been put up by a neighbouring stall.
The post went viral on social media sites and on WhatsApp last year, with some netizens declaring a boycott of the stall, Green Delights, and urging others to do the same.
The fake news about the stall’s halal status is among a number of falsehoods that have made the news in recent years. The topic came up in Parliament during a debate on fake news earlier this month.
A proposed law would give the government powers to act against online falsehoods. Proposed changes to the Protection from Harassment Act (Poha) would also give individuals and entities more avenues of help to rectify false statements about themselves.
Looking back on the incident, Liu, 49, said she was glad that more help would be available to victims of falsehoods such as herself.
“I was really upset when I heard the fake news about my stall. We’ve been selling halal-certified food for a while now, and we’ve always done things the right way and followed protocol. How could they just come out and wrongly accuse us?”
She had to clarify the matter with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, and its officers went to her stall within days to investigate.
Though the probe found that it had not violated any rules, the damage had already been done.
The stall saw fewer Muslim customers and business dropped by as much as 20%, said Liu.
Along with Poha amendments to outlaw “doxxing” – the act of publishing identifiable information to harass someone – undergraduate Gia Lim hopes new laws will serve as a warning to potential perpetrators that they cannot get away lightly. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network