An organization says disinformation has become so prevalent and serious that it could be seen as a form of fraud in the context of the coming elections.
Kontra Daya said Friday that those who produce and peddle fake news should be held accountable for their misdeeds.
“Any attempt to deceive the electorate should be exposed,” the group said.
The statement refers in particular to the engagement of trolls and other social media teams to push messages that would put a candidate in a good light, or would portray an opponent negatively even at the expense of truth.
In principle, nobody can really find any argument against this. Massaging, bending or revising the truth to achieve political ends is absolutely reprehensible. How can candidates go this low and claim to have the best interests of the public in mind?
Of course these people, or their rabid supporters online, will invoke their freedom of expression especially in territory as uncharted as social media. They know full well that once they post something on their sites of choice, there is no telling how far it can go and how many accepting minds will take them for absolute truth.
The laws created to limit candidates’ spending on the many ways to promote themselves did not contemplate how technology would change, and exponentially, the speed with which information is shared. At virtually no cost to the candidate, a message can be delivered to one person, and the next, and yet another. Expense will only come when they employ an entire team to do nothing but sit in front of the computer all day.
We’ve seen how trolls made their presence felt in the previous election, and we see them distorting conversations every day. We are aware of how powerful they can be and how they can drown out the legitimate issues through sheer noise and fury.
Those who purvey disinformation should indeed be made accountable, but do our institutions really have the resources, time and facility to do something about them? Unfortunately, sometimes it’s communication agencies and officials themselves who spread misleading, if not downright false statements.
What would nip fake news in the bud would be people’s discerning minds that will not dignify fake news and virulent, however hollow, commentary. Alas, it’s a solution that will be slow to come and which would be dependent on how Filipinos can think independently and critically. Even more tragic is the fact that it’s our leaders themselves who appear committed to consign us to ignorance.