Pangilinan seeks penalty vs social media for spread of fake news
To stop the alarming spread of misinformation online, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan is seeking a Senate inquiry into possible liabilities of social media platforms, particularly Facebook, for allowing fake news items to propagate on their pages.
Pangilinan has filed Senate Resolution 271 directing appropriate committees in the Senate to conduct an inquiry on the proliferation of misinformation and fake news sites in social media to determine the necessity of amending Republic Act 10175, known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, and other pertinent laws.
The resolution also seeks the possibility of imposing penalties on social media platforms “to provide an environment that enables the balanced flow of information into, out of, and across the country, in accordance with the policy that respects the freedom of speech and of the press.”
It noted that Facebook, with 47 million reported active accounts in the Philippines, is considered the “most popular and highly trafficked social media networking site.”
But in the aftermath of the May 2016 elections, the resolution pointed out that criticisms have been leveled against Facebook and the role of social media in the proliferation of misinformation and fake news sites.
“The proliferation of the false stories into major news topics in this era of post-truth politics has become a problematic phenomenon not only in the Philippines, but also in other parts of the world,” Pangilinan, president of Liberal Party, said in the resolution.
The senator said the propagation of fake news stories has become an “effective weapon of several political operatives to influence public opinion and national discourse.”
“As a result, the level and quality of public discourse have suffered,” he said.
“Discerning the truth from the lies has become more difficult everyday as manipulation of information and blatant fabrication of stories have become increasingly rampant.”
More than being an online platform, the resolution said, Facebook may be described as “a de facto media company or publisher that should be responsible and accountable for the content it distributes and allows to be distributed, in order to protect the national discourse from fabricated and false news.”
Pangilinan then saw the need for the Senate to look at the systems that protect the freedoms accorded to all Filipinos by the Consitution “especially where those freedoms are being undermined by a surge in social media through the propagation of falsehoods, defamation, character assassination, and national security threats.”
“It is therefore in the interest of the State to protect the integrity of cyberspace so that it will become a tool for development, and not a tool for sowing dissent and virulent tribalism,” the senator further said in the resolution.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has also filed a resolution seeking Senate inquiry into the proliferation of so-called “trolls” in social media. CDG/rga
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