Anti-fake news bill: Pros, cons weighed

A UNIVERSITY of the Philippines professor said on Friday that the anti-fake news bill, if passed, is “too dangerous.”

Danilo Arao of UP’s College of Mass Communications was referring to Senate Bill 1492 or An Act Penalizing the Malicious Distribution of False News and Other Related Violations by Senator Joel Villanueva.

The bill describes false news as those that intend to sow panic, division, chaos, violence and hate as well as those that besmirch one’s reputation.

“What constitute panic, division, chaos, violate or hate?” Arao said. “Even a simple mistake without any malice, an honest mistake for that matter, can be interpreted as fake news or information.

“Even ordinary people can fall prey to the law, he added. “Legislation is not necessary to address the issue of fake news.”

“The solution to the problem of fake news or information whether published or posted on social media is self-regulation through and information and education campaign,” Arao said.

Villanueva’s bill aims to punish violators who spread fake news with a hefty penalty depending on the nature of crime committed, while public officials facing stiffer penalties.

Villanueva expressed alarm over Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s false claim linking several opposition lawmakers to the conflict in Marawi City, and the spread of false information about the Marawi situation.

“The problem of fake news is not an issue of a court of law, but a court of public opinion,” Arao said.

“As far as newspapering or the social media platform is concerned, the answer is self-regulation.”

Also on Friday, Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson denied that she herself was a purveyor of fake news.

In a television interview, Uson said she double-checks her facts in her controversial posts and “gets the news right on the spot.”

“First, I have all the numbers of the Cabinet members, and the no. 1 on my list is DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello and if there is an announcement about our OFWs, like the one that happened in Doha, I can talk to him personally. I also double check,” she said in Filipino.

“The purpose of fake news is to deceive, and I haven’t done that.”

Topics: Anti-fake news bill , Danilo Arao , An Act Penalizing the Malicious Distribution of False News and Other Related Violations , Senator Joel Villanueva
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