Poe: Bloggers are not above libel laws
“Bloggers are not above libel laws,” and they should be held liable if they spread fake news, Senator Grace Poe said on Tuesday.
Poe made the remark during the resumption of the hearing of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, regarding the proliferation of fake news.
“In our last hearing, some bloggers claimed that their posts were personal expressions or mere opinions and are therefore not subject to a journalist’s code of ethics. In my view, bloggers are not above libel laws,” Poe, who chairs the committee on public information and mass media, said in her opening statement.
“If a blogger passes on information that he claims are facts, but which later turn out to be false, we should be able to hold him or her accountable,” Poe said.
And while she supports a person’s right to freedom of expression, Poe said a writer who “defames” the subject of his or her article “must be held liable in accordance with our laws.”
“You cannot just attack a person without basis, and then hide behind the skirt of free expression. I think one must have the courage to stand by what he has written and posted publicly,” she said.
The senator also reminded the government of its role in stopping the proliferation of fake news and false information.
A law pushing for Freedom of Information, she said, would be useless if the government itself would spread fake news to the public.
“Government regulation that borders on intimidation and harassment of journalists is another means of suppressing the truth,” she said. “Let us remember, the Constitution gives the people the right to information and protects freedom of the press.”
“Ito na ba ang kinahinatnan ng bayan natin ngayon? Hostage ng disinformation? (Is this our country has become? Hostage by disinformation?) Are we now in a permanent state of civil cyberwar, the kind which gives no quarter to other ideas, and is intolerant of other views?” the senator asked.
But while there was a proposal to regulate fake news through legislation, Poe maintained that Congress “cannot legislate thought control.”
“I believe that this destructive and divisive phenomenon can only be addressed by a cocktail of solutions, the most potent of which is through an educated and vigilant citizenry, and a government which must cease to be the greatest enabler of manufactured information,” she added. /jpv
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