THE spread of misinformation online as propagated in social media has alarmed Senator Francis Pangilinan, as he mulls the need to penalize Facebook for allowing fake news to spread on its pages.
In Senate Resolution 271 filed late Wednesday afternoon, the new Liberal Party president said fake news are now being used as weapons to distort public opinion on several national matters.
"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 has become increasingly rampant," Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan asked the Senate to conduct an inquiry on the proliferation of misinformation and fake news sites on social media platforms, particularly on Facebook.
"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," he said.
Pangilinan also pointed to Article II, Section 24 of the Constitution that recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building.
"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," he added.
Pangilinan's resolution was inspired by German legislators who announced their intention to penalize Facebook for every post not properly moderated within 24 hours. (SunStar Philippines)