The challenges of online social media come from the ease and speed at which information is shared online.
Speaking at a lunch organised by the Singapore Press Club this afternoon, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim highlighted recent examples where unsubstantiated rumours such as child kidnapping hoaxes were rapidly spread online.
He also mentioned another case of a boy being targeted online by netizens for disturbing his neighbours with noisy drumming.
But the netizens got the wrong person, a fact that was confirmed by the mother of the actual drummer.
He said: "Out of habit or even genuine concern, some may pass on the rumour without verifying, leading to unnecessary distress or panic. The bite-sized nature of such media also means that lines get taken out of context."
He added that the Media Development Authority supports projects by people, private and public sector organisations through the Inter-Ministry Cyber Wellness Steering Committee to encourage and promote safe, responsible use of the Internet.
In addition, the National Library Board is also rolling out programmes that will help equip students and adults with skills to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of the information they receive, and in turn be able to use information responsibly and ethically.