Social media firms put profit above principle: Singapore minister

K. Shanmugam, in an interview for the Reuters Next conference on Tuesday, also defended Singapore's new law against concern that it is a censorship tool.

He said there was a "consensus" developing around the world that tackling fake news can't be left to the tech platforms, although he said it remained unclear how many countries would follow Singapore with regulatory measures.

"Let's be frank, when social media platforms argue against it (regulation), it's really putting profit above principle," Shanmugam said

Singapore's Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) introduced in late 2019 has been called the "most far-reaching legislation of its kind to date" by the Asia Internet Coalition, an association of internet and technology companies.

It allows government ministers to order news outlets, social media users or platforms to carry warnings that their pages or posts contain false statements, and to include links to a government fact-checking website.

There are more stringent actions, fines and even jail for non-compliance.