Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged social media users, technology companies, media outfits, and journalists to exert concerted efforts in combatting the proliferation of fake news and disinformation populating across social media platforms.
De Lima said she remains hopeful that the nation can rise above fake news, especially now that more people are increasingly becoming aware of how their perception of truth and reality have been manipulated by the spread of bogus information online.
“What gives me hope, at least, is that more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of how their perception of truth and reality have been manipulated by the spread of fake information through social media,” she said.
“(But) until we find an effective way or ways to neutralize and counter them, we cannot begin to hope to repair the damages they’ve already caused and to ensure that they can never hijack our democratic way of life ever again,” she added.
De Lima, who remains detained over trumped-up illegal drug trade charges based on manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies of convicted felons, has been systematically victimized by fake news peddlers online.
She said she believes that the tide of fake news against her was part of the orchestrated campaign to discredit her for her vocal opposition to the administration’s all-out war on drugs that saw the death of thousands of suspected drug offenders.
“I’ve always known that it was the product of an orchestrated effort to discredit me and my efforts to advocate for human rights and accountability in the face of specific, heinous acts of an administration that seemed to think that resorting to extrajudicial killings is an acceptable tool for governance,” she said.
The former justice secretary lamented that some purveyors of information have unscrupulously allowed themselves to be used by sinister groups in disseminating fake news and in brainwashing ordinary people through their malicious manipulation.
“When they knew and did nothing to protect both their own platforms and the people who use them from these unethical, illegal or destructive practices, they played a part in everything that happened,” she said.
“That is just plain heinous. There is such a thing as social responsibility. Also, there is plain decency. And plain logic. Why destroy the reputation of the company you built? For money? But there is such a thing as extreme greed,” she added.
The Senator from Bicol pointed out that the impact of these powerful propaganda machineries, including well-oiled troll farms and disinformation campaign, should be neutralized to safeguard the general health of the country’s democracy. “If we can’t help ordinary people navigate social media and tell what is true from what is false, then we can’t empower them to make the right decisions for themselves. That is not true democracy. That is tyranny masquerading as democracy,” she said.