MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media on Wednesday began its inquiry on the proliferation of fake news on social media sites.
This comes after the blog post of a group called “Silent No More” expressed condemnation against seven senators who did not sign the Senate Resolution Number 516, which urges the government to stop the violence and killings, especially of minors.
Several social media bloggers also attended the hearing including the controversial Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, who claimed to have been victimized as well by misinformation.
However, some senators reprimanded Uson for posting what they described as questionable information on her personal Facebook page that has millions of followers.
“My question is, and its a very simple question, at the time Asec. Mocha blogged about the minority, about the opposition, about all of us, just answer yes or no, did she ask for our side?” Sen. Bam Aquino said.
Uson, on the other hand, argued she is not a journalist, but a blogger.
“First of all, sir, it is the right of a blogger to decide whether or not to seek the side of the other party. Unlike with mainstream media, they have the obligation before reporting their news,” PCOO Asec. Mocha Uson said.
Several senators reminded bloggers working with the government to be responsible in expressing their opinions on social media especially since they have many followers.
The Senate committee also sought to hear the side of the personality behind the blog Silent No More Philippines, identified as Cocoy Dayao, who did not appear at the hearing.
Dayao was allegedly part of the communications office of the previous administration.
Some professional journalists are seeking to hold liable even the officials of the government involved in proliferating misinformation and lies.
“The problem I see is when government officials themselves spread the lies. A number of politicians and public officials tend to play fast and loose with the facts, [and] in the process, misleading the public,” said Ellen Tordesillas of Vera Files.
For former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, the netizens are not the ones at fault for the spread of fake news, but the dishonest government officials.
“What I consider a threat to our democratic values and danger to our marketplace of ideas is the prevalence of false information provided by public officials whether deliberately or out of sheer incompetence. False information provided by public officials imposes special problems,” said Hilbay.
Senator Antonio Trillanes and Uson also faced off during the said hearing. The two previously had a heated exchange over the alleged offshore accounts of Trillanes.
“You are handsome in person Senator . That’s not fake news, sir,” Uson said to Trillanes.
To which Trillanes replied, “Actually, I was not planning to attend, but miss apparently Ms. Mocha misses me…just a few more flattery and I might withdraw the case I filed against you,” Trillanes replied. – Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue