Explainer: What is POFMA?

What is the  Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA)? This explainer infographic lays out key concepts and figures in simple terms (note: this infographic was last updated on 8 October 2020).

A note on this dataset’s methodology and sources

The sources used in data collection are government reports (POFMA Office press releases and Gov.sg Factually articles). Media reports and direct sources (the communications themselves) are also used to verify the actor type and accessibility of the communications. A full description of the dataset’s methodology can be found here, and the full dataset can be downloaded here.

Note that this is how the dataset defines reports, uses and communications:

  • A report is a government press release issued to announce a use of the legislation.
  • Within a single report, one can find multiple distinct directions or orders under POFMA. Each of these are classified as a distinct use of POFMA.
  • Each direction or order can affect multiple distinct electronic communications, such as a Facebook post or website article.

For example:

  • According to Report 1, a Facebook post is the subject of a correction direction, issued to Individual A.
  • According to Report 2, this same Facebook post is also the subject of a targeted correction direction, issued to Facebook.

The POFMA’ed dataset would thus track that Facebook post as one communication, subject to two distinct POFMA uses, according to two distinct reports.

Improving the Dataset

Are you thinking of using this dataset? As a student, I’m keen on improving this dataset’s accuracy and useability to others, and am always eager to hear your thoughts and feedback. If you have thoughts, comments or suggestions, please do direct them towards POFMAed@gmail.com. A big thank you to the academics and journalists who’ve been giving me your feedback and advice. It is greatly appreciated!

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