Facebook removes Critical Spectator page for violating its policies

Before the Critical Spectator Facebook page was removed, it carried opinions and commentaries on Singapore politics that were seen to adopt a pro-Government stance.
PHOTO: Reuters

SINGAPORE - Facebook has taken down the Critical Spectator page run by a Polish national in Singapore, Mr Michael Petraeus, ahead of the general election on Friday (July 10).

In response to queries, a Facebook spokesman said on Wednesday (July 8) that the company has recently taken action on several accounts and pages in Singapore for violating its policies.

"This is based on the violating behaviour of these accounts and pages and not based on the content they posted," the spokesman added.

Facebook declined to provide details of these other accounts or pages it said had been taken down recently.

Last month, it took action against several accounts for misrepresentation as part of measures to protect the integrity of Singapore's general election.

One of them is a Facebook page called Fabrications About the PAP (FAP) with more than 250,000 likes. It was taken down for violating Facebook's policies.

The FAP page, started by a Mr Chua Chin Seng, had received a warning from the police in 2016 for breaching election advertising rules during the Bukit Batok by-election.

Before the Critical Spectator page was removed, it carried Mr Petraeus's opinions and commentaries on Singapore politics that were seen to adopt a pro-Government stance. He also wrote commentaries on regional politics.

The page had more than 20,000 followers and over 17,000 likes.

On Wednesday, Mr Petraeus posted a screengrab of the page on his personal account, showing that it had been unpublished for "activity that goes against the Facebook Community Standards".

"The cancel crowd has just gotten me unpublished. This is the world we live in," he said in his post.

The removal comes a day after Mr Terry Xu, chief editor of alternative news site The Online Citizen (TOC), said he had made a police report against the Critical Spectator page.

Mr Xu said in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening that he made the report because Mr Petraeus's posts showed a "clear intent to influence the election by criticising a candidate from a particular party and on policies proposed by various parties".

He cited a section of the Parliamentary Elections Act which says no person who is not a citizen of Singapore shall take part in an election activity.

This includes promoting or prejudicing the electoral success of any political party or candidate.

It is unclear if the police report is connected to the takedown of the Facebook page. The Straits Times has contacted the police for comment.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.