During the resumption of the fake news probe Tuesday, Sen. Grace Poe, the chair of Senate public information and mass media panel, said that the Congress “cannot legislate thought control.” Senate PRIB/Alex Nuevaespaña, File

Poe denies pushing for Facebook ban in Philippines
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - February 1, 2018 - 6:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe denied on Thursday that she was pushing for a ban on Facebook in the Philippines, insisting that this is the disinformation that the Senate is trying to combat in its hearings on so-called “fake news.”

Poe said that banning the social media site in the Philippines was counterproductive, and the video showing her supposedly pushing for such a prohibition was simply untrue, according to the senator.

“These are the products of fake news factories we are trying to combat. The Philippines now has a big industry bent on twisting the truth,” Poe said in a Facebook post.

“This is fake news. This is not true. First of all, that’s counterproductive. It’s wrong. This is really disinformation,” Poe said in a television interview.

READ'Fake news cultivates a culture of lying'

Poe however conceded that they could not stop the proliferation of information online even if the Facebook video, which she said was “spliced” to make it appear as though the senator wanted to ban the use of the social media network, had already been seen by many people.

“What’s appearing on social media, of course we cannot stop it from spreading,” she said.

During the Senate hearing on the spread of false information, Poe insisted that both the government and its offices involved in communication bore great responsibility in preventing the spread of disinformation.

Poe broached the possibility of setting parameters for official government platforms, so these would not be used as platforms for the spread of “hateful” propaganda.

Poe, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, also stressed that Congress could not pass laws on the proliferation of spurious information and data.

She also cited the case of Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, who maintains a widely-popular blog site and has been accused of spreading wrong data and information to her online followers.

During the hearing, Poe also emphasized the accountability of social media networks if they failed to address offensive speech and hateful propaganda disseminated through their platforms.

She also urged Filipinos to be discerning and critical in consuming information found online to separate truth from lies.

“We should be able to inform the citizens that they should be able to cross-check information that they get online,” Poe said.

“We’ve come up also with our own video of the proceedings, because [the video circulating online] was spliced,” the senator added.

Poe also wants to compel Facebook executives to attend the next hearing of her panel to discuss the “algorithms” that it uses to control the information that appears on the news feed of their users.

She noted that some European governments have already initiated a crackdown on wrong information and compelled social media networks to flag illegal, hateful, defamatory and racist expression within 24 hours.

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