By SHARLYN VIVO
MANILA — A youth partylist here wrote an open letter to social media giants Facebook, Youtube, and TikTok, urging these platforms to implement stricter measures in fighting the spread of disinformation as the national elections here in the Philippines draw near.
In a Facebook post, Kabataan Partylist first nominee Raoul Manuel said these social media platforms may be weaponized to spread false information in an attempt to deceive the public.
“Respective managements of online platforms are not taking enough steps to address how politicians use social media apps to peddle lies to thousands and even millions of citizens. These companies should not serve as conduits for historical distortion that assists in installing tyrants to top government positions,” said Manuel.
Facebook itself has been under fire yet again amid the barrage of criticisms over data privacy, inaction to spread of false information, and the leaks of former employee Frances Haugens exposing the harm to children and political violence of the said application. Amid the brouhaha, Facebook Inc. announced yesterday it would change its corporate name to “Meta” as part of its so-called major rebranding.
In the Philippines, Facebook helped 2016 candidates to maximize their platform during the presidential elections, including how to attract more audiences to their respective Pages.
Meanwhile, lies on the supposed legacy of the Marcos dictatorship continue to proliferate across social media platforms, whitewashing the abuses and bloody record of one of the country’s darkest years.
In a previous statement, Anna Celestial of the Computer Professionals’ Union said powerful digital platforms have shaped the country’s democratic process in propagating fake news through hiring marketing firms to create cyber troll armies to boost the public image of politicians and attack their opponents.
In September last year, Duterte lashed out on Facebook, following its shut down of 57 fake Facebook accounts, 31 Pages and 20 Instagram accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers that were flagged over its coordinated inauthentic behavior. Facebook said these Pages were linked to the Philippine police and military. Still, several Pages that spread false information and are in support of the present administration continue to exist online.
Such disinformation campaigns, however, have also led to invitation to harm progressive leaders who are critical of government policies, which they deemed to be no not of public interest. Among them is Kabataan Partylist Sarah Elago, whose photos are doctored along with pronouncements being attributed to her.
Manuel, in his open letter, challenged Facebook, Youtube, and Tiktok to combat disinformation, especially those sponsored by tyrannical leaders, and investigate the abuse of social media applications of Filipino political figures, especially at this time where most of the Filipinos rely on the internet. (JJE, RVO)