The country’s leading business groups on Monday announced a shared observation on how the country’s netizens have been abused by multiple parties through the spread of disinformation and hate speech, resulting in erroneous beliefs, confusion, and division, especially in this crucial time of national election.
“We call on our countrymen and women to evaluate political players as well as these media and communications platforms on these same terms and use their votes and clicks to promote truth and civility in the coming elections,” the groups said in a statement Monday.
The groups who echoed the call for truth and transparency in all communication platforms include the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), Cebu Business Council (CBC), Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB), Energy Lawyers Asso of the Phils. (ELAP), Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCI), Filipina CEO Circle (FCC);
Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), Integrity Initiative Inc., Investment Houses Association of the Philippines (IHAP), Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Makati Business Club (MBC), Mindanao Business Council, Philippine Business for Education (PBEd); Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Life Insurance Association (PLIA), Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA).
They mentioned “eroding pillars of trust and unity” which is “significant in improving lives, livelihoods, and society” amid the pandemic.
“We watch with alarm how this abuse has spiked during this election season. We fear the damage may be long-lasting,” the groups noted.
The abuse comprises lies, personal attacks, trolling, misogyny, “red-tagging,” and many more, sometimes putting people at risk of physical harm.
“We call on political players to consider what they are doing to the country and to individuals, pledge not to engage in such abuse, and exhort their supporters to remain civil as well. We call on operators of social media and other platforms to consider what they are allowing to happen, and declare to their users and the public the steps they are taking to stop or curtail this,” the groups said.
Representing the business community, these groups recognize how the business sector should be an effective communications player by espousing responsible advertising spending.
“While continuing to advocate and defend media freedom, we encourage businesses to evaluate the platforms they advertise in — including social media, messaging apps, broadcast, and print — in terms of whether and how much disinformation and hate speech they allow,” the business community said.
It has also been acknowledged that some of the platforms have already taken steps to address disinformation.
The groups also asked the various platforms to be more wary and discerning and to fully share with the public how they are addressing disinformation and hate speech, which may be a factor on where businesses feature their products and services.
They also support ongoing efforts to create tools that businesses and advertisers “can use to assist them in this evaluation in the near future but commit to taking first steps now.”