MONEY must be spent on agricultural farms and other pro-farmer programs instead of troll farms, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Tuesday, noting that online trolling can lead to deaths.
When asked about fake news and online trolling in a Zoom interview with Senate reporters, he said, “I agree that this is a cause for concern. Imbes na troll farm ang kanilang ginagastusan, dapat iyong agricultural farms. Itong poultry farms, piggery, livestock, vegetable, rice. Iyon ang gastusan natin dahil iyon ang tulong na kailangan ng ating mga kababayan.”
Allegations surfaced early June that an official of the Duterte administration has been using taxpayers’ money to organize troll farms in every city in preparation for the 2022 elections.
Pangilinan recognizes that fake news and trolling should be addressed in preparation for the upcoming elections.
“Limang taon na akong pinupuntirya ng fake news… The most prone were the opposition candidates. And I think it will be the same. Maybe even worse. Unless we do something about it,” Pangilinan said.
Citing a study by the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, he said candidates fielded by the opposition during the 2019 elections were the most prone to trolling and fake news online.
Pangilinan said efforts will be made to address the weaponization of social media.
“We have to look at legislation moving forward. How do we now regulate? Syempre medyo challenge yan dahil may free speech. Pero meron ding cybercrime laws. How do we, sa legislation, look into regulatory interventions to address itong fake news and trolling?” he said.
Weaponization of social media kills people
Recognizing that the weaponization of social media has led to people being killed, Pangilinan expressed alarm that rampant red-tagging online can now cause harm and even death.
Pangilinan asserts that social media platforms must also put their foot down to help with a strong push back.
“Hindi rin biro, pag lumabas sa social media iyong paninira, iyong red-tagging, kamatayan iyong kasunod noon eh. Lalo na kapag paulit ulit. People are killed,” Pangilinan said.
“Facebook and other social media platforms have become crime scenes, enabling criminality. Number 1 na ata ang Pilipinas sa child pornography saka iyong mga pedophile rings. And that is done through all these social med platforms. Whether it’s Youtube or Twitter or WhatApp or Facebook. Lahat yan. They also have to shape up,” he said.
With 100 days left before the voter’s registration period ends, Pangilinan appeals to the public to be vigilant and to do their part in calling out fake news.
“Iyong paninira na ginagastusan ng napakalaking halaga, ay totoo at nangyayari. Kaya tayo bilang mga mamamayan, kinakailangan maging mapagbantay. Wag basta-basta magpapaniwala,” he said.
Pangilinan earlier condemned the rampant red-tagging and harassment of students, activists, and volunteers online.
Proactive takedown of abusive behavior online by social media platforms is key, he said.