Singapore Introduces New Service to Combat Hate Speech, Misinformation, Scams and Deepfakes

By Thea Felicity

May 16, 2024 10:57 AM EDT

People walk out during lunchtime at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on June 26, 2023.
(Photo : ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

In Singapore, you can now verify if a suspicious text message you received might be a scam or misinformation through a new service called Checkmate. Per The Straits Times, this new service is supported by the newly established Centre for Advanced Technologies in Online Safety (CATOS).

CATOS, part of the Ministry of Communications and Information's Online Trust and Safety Research Programme and hosted by the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, aims to tackle online harms such as hate speech, misinformation, and deepfakes. 

The center will receive $50 million in funding over five years under Singapore's Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2025 Plan, including a recent $30 million top-up from the National Research Foundation.

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Singapore's New Service For Online Harms

The funding boost will enable Catos to expand its work, including creating a sandbox environment for testing solutions to online harms and facilitating the licensing of practical solutions. 

CATOS is also developing technologies to detect harmful emotions and hate speech in online content, aiming to flag potential issues before they escalate. 

Ultimately, the developers plan to scale up the service and eventually register it as a non-profit organization.

The center's official launch took place during the first Online Trust and Safety Forum on Wednesday, May 15, which Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo attended. The forum also featured an agreement between Catos and Adobe that will ensure the authenticity of online content.

CATOS center director Yang Yinping advocates for a collaborative approach, urging academia, industry, the public sector, and NGOs to develop advanced solutions for a safer online environment. 

This call for collaboration comes in the wake of Singapore's Prime Minister disclosing that he was a victim of an online scam, according to VCPost. The Prime Minister has already engaged with relevant parties to address the issue.

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