Tuesday July 17, 2018

Editorial: Fake news brouhaha

WHAT is fake news?

RECENTLY, everybody's talking about "fake news" or as the way the Senate defines it - those kind of stories that go viral on social media that's commonly produced by bloggers like Thinking Pinoy and Mocha Uson.

The issue lies within the content these bloggers give. Both Thinking Pinoy and Uson seem to defend President Rodrigo Duterte while they criticize other government officials who stand against him.

Senate members, who are raising their brows on these "political bloggers,” are mostly from the Liberal Party, a staunch critic of the President.

Basically, these bloggers appear like Duterte's most vocal supporters and since they are getting a lot of readership on the online platform (the most accessible means of communication to date), they are also drawing the attention of many Filipinos. This is where the opposing party starts to cry foul. They say that Filipinos are becoming victims of these stories because they believe in it even if it is written and produced by people who are labeled as bloggers - not the official, reliable, trusted journalists.

Well, first, we cannot blame people if they trust an outlet giving information on a topic they are interested to read.

Second, who said, there can only be one source of information for all? Truth is not sourced out from one media agency or blogger. It is up to the reader to validate what he consumes and he can only confirm the facts through reading multiple versions of the story.

As the legislators propose a law that aims to curb the proliferation of “fake news,” Duterte on the other end, has already expressed that it is unlikely to be passed in the country.

The President said the government cannot impose prior restraint on materials that will be published or broadcast since it would violate free speech.

“I was listening that they (the legislators) would draft a law to set a standard… That’s censorship (of) freedom of expression. It will not pass,” he said.

Instead of imposing prior restraint, he said proponents could instead raise penalties against persons found guilty of libel, slander and other similar offenses.

“There’s a law that says you cannot review the comments or write-ups of these people (media) because that is prior censorship,” he said.

“If you want, pass a law to increase the penalty. You have libel, slander, and civil case. There are many remedies,” he said.

But if a bill will impose “a set of rules of what is proper or not,” Duterte insisted that he would not support the measure.