Published: 06 March 2023
Mr Yip Hon Weng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what are the trends of youths radicalising via gaming, chat and social media platforms; and (b) what are the steps taken to strengthen the tracking and identification of extremist messaging and ideologies on such platforms.
Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development:
1. The number of self-radicalised youths has increased, and they are getting younger. From 2007 to 2014, only one self-radicalised youth, aged 20, was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Since 2015, there have been 11 self-radicalised youths aged between 15 and 20 who were detained or issued with Restriction Orders under the ISA. They were exposed to extremist and radical content through a variety of online platforms, including gaming, chat and social media platforms.
2. The Government has blocked access to some websites that perpetuate extremist messaging and ideologies. Separately, under the amended Broadcasting Act which took effect on 1 February 2023, the Info-communications Media Development Authority can direct social media services to disable access to content instructing or advocating terrorism or violence. As announced during the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Committee of Supply debate this year, MCI will study further measures to strengthen online safety on other services, including gaming platforms and app stores.
3. The Ministry of Home Affairs will also be introducing later this year, legislation to combat online criminal harms, which will cover content that incites terror-related activities.
4. But despite our best efforts, it is not possible to block all extremist content, given the vastness of the Internet. New extremist content and new sites are constantly popping up. Determined individuals will find ways to circumvent our blocking.
5. We have therefore been working with community partners, such as the Religious Rehabilitation Group, and Inter-Agency Aftercare Group, on outreach efforts to strengthen the community’s resilience to extremist ideologies.
6. The public, particularly family members and friends, also play an important role. They can seek help for someone close to them whom they are concerned has been radicalised, or report suspicious behaviour by calling the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre hotline at 1800–2626–473, or 999, or SMS to 71999, or using the “Report” function in the SGSecure app. The identity of the informer will be protected. Early reporting will allow the authorities to intervene quickly to avert a tragedy, including to the radicalised person. If the person is only in the early stages of radicalisation, he or she may simply be referred for counselling, and may not need to be detained under the ISA.