Senate inquiry tackles promotion of information literacy and definition of fake news

UNTV News   •   October 4, 2017   •   4192

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_100417_ Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media

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

 

Singapore approves bill criminalizing “fake news”

Marje Pelayo   •   May 9, 2019

The Merlion park is a prominent Singapore landmark and major tourist attraction on the whole island.

SINGAPORE – The island nation’s Parliament on Wednesday (May 8) has passed legislation to combat fake news.

Legislators approved the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill with 72 ministers voted “yes”, nine voted “no” and three abstentions.

In an interview in April with Bloomberg, Minister S. Iswaran of the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said the measure intends to ensure that public discussion online will only be based on factual information, and will not compromise authentic speech and ideas or undermine democratic processes.

“We want to ensure free speech continues unfettered on the Internet and in general, in discourse. This bill and what we are intending here does not in any way impinge on criticism, opinion, satire or even satire or parody,” he said.

“What it really tries to do is ensure that when we have that engagement that contest of ideas it is truly based on facts,” he added.

The new law bans falsehoods that are damaging to Singapore’s “public interest” which is defined by the government as “threats to its security, foreign relations, electoral integrity and public perception of the government and state institutions.”

The new measure would also require social media sites like Facebook to carry warnings on posts the government deems false and would require service providers to remove such content or allows the government to block it.

On its website, the MCI defines a falsehood “as a statement of fact that is false or misleading.”

Offenders could face a jail term of up to 10 years and hefty fines between $30,000 up to $1 million Singaporean dollars.

According to the official, the fake news laws will likely come into effect in the second half of this year.

With the passage of the new law, Singapore joins other nations with similar legislation against “fake news” such as Russia, France, Germany, Malaysia, and the European Union. – Marje Pelayo

Robredo pushes for social media regulation vs disinformation

Robie de Guzman   •   March 21, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo | Courtesy : OVP

Vice President Leni Robredo is calling on Congress to pass a law to strictly regulate the use of social media in the Philippines.

During an interview with reporters in Dagupan City, Pangasinan on Wednesday, Robredo stressed the need to regulate the social media, which she said is “being abused in a very negative way” and has become a tool to spread disinformation especially during election season.

She said Congress should take action to somehow control and regulate posts on various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube.

“Kasi kung anybody can post anonymously, ang daming nabibiktimang hindi naman dini-deserve na siraan,” she added.

Robredo said election campaigning in the country have been marred by dirty tactics through online platforms. She added that this is unfair to the people who must know the truth but also rely on social media for information.

The Vice President said she and her family have been victims of vicious attacks and fake news by propagandists on social media.

“Sometimes you can’t blame them because they think it’s true. But what is being fed to them is propaganda,” she added.

She believes the social media should also be “made accountable the way traditional media are accountable” to promote responsibility among its users.

Robredo also lamented the lack of teeth in the country’s election laws to level the political playing field.

“Halimbawa, iyong mga violators, hindi naman nakakasuhan, hindi name-make accountable, kasi wala masyadong ngipin iyong batas kaya kailangan talaga i-amend ‘yung ating election laws,: she added.

“So if we do nothing, the situation will worsen,” Robredo said, adding that it takes time to undo the damage caused by anonymous social media posts. — Robie de Guzman

Malacañang hits ‘scaremongers’ spreading fake news about Duterte’s health

Marje Pelayo   •   February 4, 2019

A screenshot of President Rodrigo Duterte’s live broadcast via Facebook dispelling the rumors about him being dead. (SOURCE: Honeylet Avancena FB)

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration has no plans of suing those who spread fake news about President Rodrigo Duterte’s health.

“Ordinaryo na iyan. We’re used to that anyway. So let it be,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Panelo noted that such fake news are the machinations of the administration’s critics. But the Palace expressed confidence that majority of the Filipinos remain in support of the Duterte administration.

“Sinasadya nila iyan, mga kritiko. Actually galing iyan sa mga kalaban ni Presidente hindi sa mga ordinaryong tao,” he explained.

A report on the alleged death of the President circulated on social media during the weekend with calls for the possible take over of Vice President Leni Robredo.

In response to the hoax, President Duterte’s partner Honeylet Avanceña posted a video of the President to clarify the rumors.

“For those who believe in the news that I passed away. Then I request of you, please pray for me, for the eternal repose of my soul. Thank you,” the President said in the video.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea asserted that the President is doing fine.

“He (President Rodrigo Duterte) is okay and ready to rumble. Hindi naman siya sa si Superman. Siya po ay tao po lamang na paminsan-minsan ay “not feeling well di ba?” Medialdea said.

Panelo, meanwhile, assured that the President’s health is in the best condition and explained that he just needed some rest in preparation for his busy schedule in the next few days.

The Presidential Spokesperson argued that if ever there is one person who knows of the President’s health, it is President Duterte himself so it is him who decides to rest if he feels he needed one. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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