Indonesia

Pangilinan: Facebook must be penalized for fake news

Camille Elemia
Pangilinan: Facebook must be penalized for fake news
Facebook '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,' says Senator Francis Pangilinan

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan has sought a Senate inquiry into the proliferation of fake news on social media, seeking to penalize Facebook for its “inaction.”

Pangilinan filed Senate Resolution 271 on Wednesday, January 18, directing the appropriate committee to probe “the proliferation of misinformation and fake news sites in social media platforms, particularly on Facebook.” (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet)

“In this digital age, Facebook and other social media platforms play a crucial role in the practice of democracy. More than being an online platform, 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 said in his resolution.

To further prove his point, Pangilinan said the issue has become a global phenomenon, citing the aftermath of the 2016 Philippine and Unites States presidential polls. Pangilinan is the acting president of the Liberal Party, which has been the subject of online attacks by mostly pro-administration groups and accounts. (READ: Fake accounts, manufactured reality on social media)

“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. Discerning the truth from the lies has become more difficult every day as manipulation of information and blatant fabrication of stories have become increasingly rampant,” Pangilinan said.

“Some are now considering social media as the fifth pillar of a democratic republic, as it plays a crucial role in the participation of citizens in governance. We must also ensure that our people are well-equipped with media literacy skills so that they are able to discern what is factual and what is not,” he added.

Pangilinan’s resolution was prompted by an earlier move in Germany, where the country’s ruling party announced its intention to pass a law penalizing Facebook for fake and wrong posts that are not removed within 24 hours.

The social network has since announced it will introduce new measures to fight fake news in Germany.

“There is a need to look at the systems that protect the freedoms accorded to all Filipinos by our Constitution, especially where those freedoms are being undermined by a surge in social media abuse through the propagation of falsehoods, defamation, character assassination, and national security threats,” Pangilinan said. 

“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 added.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has also filed a similar resolution, seeking a Senate inquiry into social media “trolls” and fake news. – Rappler.com

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author

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com