May 16, 2017

Fake news use social media as springboard to become “legitimate news”


First, social media trolls spread the fake news story of Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros holding hands after they and fellow minority senators visited Senator Leila de Lima in her detention cell a couple of weeks ago. Now, a second wave of deception is underway, reviving old news stories on Senator Pangilinan’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) transactions with local government units (LGUs).

One of these fake news items which cited a Commission on Audit (COA) report released in 2013 or four years ago is made to appear new; it also failed to include the COA report part which says that it was the LGUs, not Senator Pangilinan, that failed the audit as they did not provide, as required, proper documentary support and official receipts on the livelihood projects and the procurement of office equipment.

Check out the news stories from that period — “Jinggoy Estrada allegedly involves Senator Pangilinan in PDAF,” “Sharon Cuneta defends Kiko Pangilinan on PDAF,” etc. — because some of them have been and will be re-released as if they were new.

The barrage of fake news came after Senator Pangilinan questioned the government’s proposal to get as state witness alleged pork-barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles. This is meant to discredit those who oppose this plan.

We recognize this pattern of putting on the defensive those with opposing views, by initially having social media trolls spread half-truths so that these fake news items will be picked up by traditional media, whose output have ironically been called fake by these same trolls, so that they become “legitimate news.”

Another news item quotes a DILG official accusing the Liberal Party as “behind the misinformation [at the United Nations] on the drug war.” To that, we say: The 45 UN member-nations that expressed serious concern about the killings will not allow themselves to be misled by false information.

Let us all be smart consumers of information: News is new, not old. News is complete, not piecemeal. News is what you witness, not just what you quote.