MANILA, Philippines — Twelve senators want to investigate reports that public funds are oiling the operation of troll farms that spread fake news and misinformation on social media.
The 12 senators signed the proposed Senate Resolution 768 asking the appropriate committee to conduct an inquiry on the alleged state-backed and state-funded spreaders of fake information.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, and Joel Villanueva, on signing the resolution, said the issue should not be dismissed especially when the spread of fake news would heavily affect Filipino citizens.
Senator Panfilo Lacson previously reported that “a government undersecretary has been organizing internet troll farms across the country to target political rivals or those not aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.”
Based on the resolution, a social media troll is someone who creates conflict on various social media sites by posting messages that are particularly controversial or inflammatory with the sole intent of provoking an emotional response from other users
“Filipinos should know why government spends public funds on troll farm operators disguised as ‘public relations practitioners’ and ‘social media consultants’ who sow fake news rather than on Covid-19 assistance, health care, food security, jobs protection, education, among others,” reads the resolution.
Senator Francis Pangilinan stressed that misinformation and fake news do harm to the country especially as it faces the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We must not let pass the use of taxpayers’ money to malign and harass people who are critical to the government. This is dangerous for democracy, especially that elections are upcoming next year,” he said.
Advertising firms We Are Social and Hootsuite, in their 2020 annual report, found that Filipinos spend an average of four hours and 15 minutes each day on social media – topping the world rankings for the sixth straight year. The Philippines is also the highest in the world in internet usage with an average of 10 hours and 56 minutes. -AAC