I have to admit, I like The Real Singapore (TRS)... on Facebook
Ooh, will someone make a police report against me for sedition?
TRS has been in the spotlight recently after The New Paper broke the news that two people believed to be behind the sociopolitical website were arrested under the Sedition Act for posting remarks online "that could promote ill will and hostility among the different races in Singapore" and are released on bail.
In the wake of the news, Yahoo Singapore reported that the arrests received "more cheers than jeers online".
Too bad the same thing can't be said for the Neil Patrick Harris-hosted Oscar show last Sunday.
But one TRS fan tweeted support with the hashtag #RIPfreedomofspeech, even though the website appears to be carrying on as usual as if nothing has happened. So let's hold off on the "freedom of speech" eulogies for now, shall we?
After all, this is the website that survived an online petition to shut it down last year. What's a couple of police arrests? (Waves hand dismissively.)
The petition alleged: "TRS has been posting articles which incite fear, hatred and xenophobia. On many occasions, it has also plagiarised work and altered content without the initial owner's explicit permission."
The "inciting xenophobia" part is a bit ironic as Mr Brown pointed out on Twitter about the two arrested: "One of them is actually a foreigner. Quick, TRS! Say something xenophobic about FTs!"
So why do I "like" TRS on Facebook if it posts articles that "incite fear, hatred and xenophobia"?
Because it doesn't post only articles that "incite fear, hatred and xenophobia".
For example, on Friday, TRS posted an article about how sleeping too much could raise the risk of stroke.
Sure, the article (copied and pasted from CBSNews.com) may incite fear of sleeping too much, but I found the article particularly pertinent because I really sleep a lot.
On the same day, TRS also shared the viral photo of the dress that broke the Internet because people couldn't agree on what colour it is.
Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared it on Facebook.
Like the PM, I say it's white and gold, but since Mindef is making it more difficult to get the Gold Award in the new IPPT format, the dress could just be white and silver.
So you see, TRS isn't all about inciting fear, hatred and xenophobia. It also alerts me to the latest hooey that netizens are obsessing about.
Sure, I get the occasional obscenity-laden video of commuters fighting on public transport, but that's just a bonus.
Actually, I have a more personal reason for following TRS on Facebook.
Remember how the "Shut down TRS" online petition also alleged that TRS "plagiarised work" without the owner's permission?
I am the owner of one such work.
Last November, TRS took one of my blog posts and reproduced the whole thing on its website.
It wasn't exactly plagiarism since TRS did credit me as the author and provided a link to my blog, but TRS never asked for my permission.
I wasn't sure how I felt or what to do about it.
On the one hand, I don't want anyone to mistakenly think that I am a voluntary contributor to TRS.
On the other hand, I was flattered that my blog post was deemed worthy enough to reproduce without permission, even though my blog post about the inefficacy of online petitions didn't incite hatred for anything except perhaps online petitions.
Hey, maybe TRS reproduced my blog post because it's no fan of online petitions too.
But do I really want to be associated with a website that even Mr Brown thinks is xenophobic?
On the other hand, according to SimilarWeb.com, TRS has an estimated 2.9 million monthly visits, which is 300 times more than what my blog gets.
Getting that kind of web traffic is like winning the Hong Bao Draw in blogger terms.
Not that my blog got any visits from the TRS link. But the potential readership!
Maybe I should be more upset I'm not getting a piece of TRS' ad revenue they're supposedly bragging about.
Anyway, in the end, I did nothing about TRS stealing my content - but I'm keeping an eye on the website to see if it does it again.
Is it too late for me to make a police report since everyone seems to be making police reports nowadays?
Just let me take a nap first.
This article was first published on March 1, 2015.
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