Singaporeans Get Real About the Fake News They Fell Hard For
Top Image: Zachary Tang / RICE File Photo

Forks are found in kitchens, fake news is found online. Just this past week, we’ve seen the creepy deepfake of SM Lee behaving like an insurance agent and the People’s Power Party claims that COVID vaccinations cause ‘Excess Deaths’

Chronically online youngsters are (ironically) far more likely to fall for fake news than older folks. With AI, deepfakes and ChatGPT in the public domain, disinformation has evolved into more subtle forms that can deceive even the most media-savvy individuals among us.

Ultimately, it’s a point of embarrassment that cuts across generations.

Our attention is rightly focused on dangerous outright falsehoods, but the fake news we fall for every day might reveal that we don’t have our guard up all the time—or that existing measures to fight falsehoods aren’t as effective as we think. From Adele, Alien Invasions, to Apple juice, we asked Singaporeans to be real about fake news they’ve recently fallen for.

“I saw a satire TikTok that said Adele wrote the ‘By the Seaside’ ringtone. I excitedly told my partner, ‘Did you know Adele earns more money off Apple royalties than any of her songs combined?’ We announced this news to my mother, who looked at us like we’re stupid. 

We Googled it only to realise that perhaps we are stupid. God that was embarrassing. Imagine getting dunked on by your Gen X mother. 

This isn’t the first time it’s happened to us. Just recently, we believed Iggy Azalea was abandoned as a child. We like to believe we’re media literate but sometimes we fall for stupid little lies: especially about the lives of the rich and famous.”

— Andrea, 23

“There was a piece of fake news of LKY passing before he actually passed. The falsehood was discovered quite immediately and was corrected the way it was spread… over WhatsApp.

We live in such a crazy world where all sorts of news is believable and true. And of course we will fall for some. I always forward fake news to my family group chat to warn my kids.” 

— Johnny, 40

Woman on MRT online
Image: Stephanie Lee / RICE File Photo

“I have a WhatsApp group chat with my other Ah Ma friends. There’s this woman who always forwards news links to the group. During the pandemic, it was about how COVID was fake. (Recently) she forwarded one about aliens causing floods around the world.

The first few times… we believed it, but after we searched it up and found out it was fake, it upset us. I don’t even know where she even got it from. We don’t respond to her messages anymore. “

— Kam Yip, 79

“I read this article saying apple juice.. uh.. encourages phallic growth. Had me drinking that shit daily. I told my friends I was on that ‘apple juice grindset’ until they corrected me.”

— Jake, 18

Image: Stephanie Lee / RICE File Photo

“I’ve fallen for too many to count. I rushed into my daughter’s room after seeing a TikTok of Rowan Atkinson dying in a car crash. Who would have thought videos could be faked like that!

I only realize it’s fake news after my daughter scolds me. Although it’s shameful to be corrected, I check with her now to make sure the news I read is true.”

— Sophie, 56

“I fell for some random one about a reusable grocery list from the 1920s. I fall for small half-truths on Twitter all the time. ‘Harmless’ fake news is so insidious because it grooms you to not fact check—especially when you laugh it off. It exposes how tools we depend on to sieve out lies are fallible. 

I feel like a lot of people don’t have a good idea of what fake news even is. Is a blog post that misses a tiny detail? Is it a WhatsApp chain message that says Covid 2 has started?

I also just can’t take the phrase seriously. When the government warns me about ‘the dangers of FAKE NEWS!’, I immediately dismiss it as some stupid Boomer shit; but there I go falling left and right for Twitter lies.”

— Nadine, 22

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