Robredo: Regulate ‘organized' spread of false information online

MANILA, Philippines – After drawing flak from her proposal, Vice President Leni Robredo clarified that what she wanted regulated was the organized and wide-scale spread of false information online. She also maintained that she defended free expression on social media. 

The Vice President made the clarification on Thursday, March 21, a day after she told reporters in an ambush interview in Pangasinan that social media networks should be regulated to help stop disinformation online.  

“Individual freedom of expression must always be protected. But the deliberate, organized, and large-scale distribution of fake news on social media needs to be addressed through legislation, as well as the policies of the concerned social media companies,” said Robredo in a statement.

She said she “firmly” stands by the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression and does "not support any broad, generalized restriction on this right, whether it is exercised directly, or through traditional and social media.”

But the Vice President explained the individual right to expression should be distinguished from the “deliberate, organized, and large-scale dissemination of false information, ‘fake news’ in our current parlance.” (READ: Robredo urges Facebook to take down more 'fake' pages

“The well-oiled machinery of fake news undermines public discourse by depriving citizens of the accurate information required to participate effectively in a democracy, and must be addressed,” said Robredo. 

On Wednesday, March 20,  Robredo told reporters on the sidelines of the Kaya Natin! Caravan on Good Governance held at the University of Luzon in Dagupan, Pangasinan that the May elections have become “dirty because of social media.”  

Robredo then recalled that in the 2016 elections, social media became an avenue for spreading false information against candidates. The Vice President herself, including her 3 daughters and her late husband former interior chief Jesse Robredo, were victims of the vicious attacks of online trolls and propagandists. (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet

When a reporter asked the Vice President what should be done to address this, Robredo suggested regulating social media to stop the spread of false information. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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