Blogger to gov’t offices: Keep your Facebook pages hate-free
Government offices should craft clear guidelines against hate speech being perpetuated in some of their Facebook pages, a blogger pointed out during a Senate inquiry on “fake news” on Thursday.
Blogger Tonyo Cruz lamented how “odd” it was that the Facebook pages of some government offices do not have guidelines on their comments sections, which he said consequently leads to the presence of hate speech in the said pages.
“The problem could not be with the platform. I think it is ultimately the responsibility of government officials to have clear guidelines sa Facebook page ng gobyerno,” Cruz said.
“I think the Senate could use influence to try to compel executive offices to put up guidelines. For example, is hate speech acceptable in the Facebook page of the Office of the President?” he asked.
Cruz particularly mentioned the Facebook page of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) where hate speech could be found, “like comments threatening rape or murder against critics of the President.”
“We also find these comments in news websites but they have comment policies, they have guidelines. Oddly, in our government pages, there’s no such policy,” he added.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar confirmed that they do not filter any comments from their official pages because they wanted to protect the public’s freedom of expression.
Andanar said in early 2016, they did try to delete “hateful” comments but they were questioned by some users.
“So ang ginawa namin, for or against ka man sa gobyerno, pwede kayo mag-comment nang mag-comment,” he said.
“Pero kung below the belt, ayoko rin po ng hate speech. I am also a victim of hate speech,” he added.
Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Information, however pointed out that Andanar’s office should take down hateful speech from their page’s comments section.
“Alam mo sir, pwede naman ninyo sabihin na, libre naman kayo mag-express ng sarili o ng pananaw ninyo pero wala naman yung mga threat na ire-rape kita. Yung mga ganun grave threat na nga yun pagdating sa batas natin eh,” Poe said.
“Diba, you may use your intellect to be able to be able to criticize, express yourself. Don’t take that very indecent, dehumanizing way of expressing,” she added.
Simon Milner, Facebook vice president of public policy, pointed out that the Facebook page administrator has the discretion on filtering the comments section of their respective pages.
“We provide moderation tools as part of our training not just to governments, but organizations… But it’s really up to the page’s administrators whether or not they want to make use of these moderation tools,” Milner said. /muf
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