• Cyber-Talibans

    10

    ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

    I AM still waiting for that invitation from Senator Sonny Trillanes. He threatened to hold a hearing on internet trolls and fakers, and I have been accused of being one. I want to have my day in Congress so that I can tell the good senator, and Senators Pangilinan and Aquino, that the last time I checked, my taxes partly pay for their salaries, and hence I am enraged that they are becoming enemies of my freedom to speak.

    So much effort has been spent in addressing trolling and fakery, as if it has become a national crisis that precious time in the Senate would need to be wasted to conduct hearings in aid of legislation to curb these.
    There is no need to legislate against trolling and fakery. All you need to have are the security settings in social media in the case of trolls, and a hefty supply of common sense and intelligence to deal with fake news.

    I mean, Facebook has already provided for mechanisms to screen out trolls. Even if your account is public, you can control who gets to post their comments. You can limit this only to friends. The block function is also there to serve its purpose of forever banning someone with trollish behavior from your cyberspace.

    And when people post abusive comments, you can always report these to Facebook, or even to the anti-cybercrime units of government for prosecution for cyber-libel and other crimes.

    As for fake news, nothing beats having a healthy sense of discernment and common sense to acquire the skill of knowing when is news fake and when it is not. Intelligence cannot be legislated, and you do not trample on a fundamental constitutional right just to protect gullible people from falling for a canard. Telling a lie is not even a mortal sin, but simply a venial one. And if you are going to penalize fake news, we should all be ready to prosecute parents who keep telling their children that there is a Santa Claus.

    The final check to fake news lies in the same spaces where it thrives. The fact that social media and the internet are free access spaces may embolden some creatively mischievous people to put up sites that are believable copies of the real ones and may convince people that Leila de Lima and President Duterte had a romantic past. But it is this freedom that also allows intelligence and diligence to flow freely that would sooner or later reveal the fakery for what it is, and remind you that there is a limit to the President’s womanizing.

    The bottom line here is that there are more important affairs of state that needs attention than conducting Senate hearings to protect the welfare of people who are offended by trolls and are gullible to fake news. There are more important cohorts of people whose rights are being assailed who need the protection of laws.

    However, there is one thing that needs the attention of Congress, and even of the government, for the act is patently an attack on the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech. The act is so despicable that it even borders on becoming akin to an act of terrorism.

    This is when people, who often act anonymously, deliberately game the rules of social media to silence the voices of others with whom they disagree. They make anonymous accounts not with the purpose of contributing to political discourse, but are in fact aimed at orchestrating a coordinated taking down of legitimate sites. They behave like they have become the internet Talibans, even proudly announcing their hits.

    Recently, an anti-Duterte site anonymously named Resbak Operatives, claimed responsibility for the taking down of a popular satirical site named Senyora Santibañez. The site also proudly announced a list of their targets, which include prominent pro-Duterte pages.

    This act was a blatant attack on the constitutional right of people to speak freely, which even includes the right to offend. Taking down a site for alleged violation of free speech without due process is in itself a violation of free speech. What aggravates the trampling of a right is when such is done with deliberate malice, as a tool to silence a political voice. Worse is when such acts are done by paid political operators at the behest of certain political interests, some of which are even using government money.

    To be fair, even pro-Duterte sites also act offensively or in preemptive self-defense, by also mass-reporting anti-Duterte sites.

    If there is any legal controversy that needs attention from our legislators and government regulators, and from Facebook, it will be this.

    They are not the trolls. They can be blocked and sued.

    They are not the fakers of news. Prudence and intelligence can expose them for what they are.

    It is this kind of cyberterrorism, these cyber-Talibans, which Senator Trillanes should focus on, for they are the real threats to democracy and free speech.

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    10 Comments

    1. pls dont mind the yellow trolls.
      diba nga as per #lenileaks, utos ng ovp socmed
      baliktadin lagi ang gawain nila. ipasa sa mga duterte supporters tapos ihigh light ang criticisms sa presidente.. even si zandro marcos damay.
      my fb acct was an example ng na mass report ng mga yellow bleeding hearts. i merely commented on giorgina’s fb page. sorry na lang sila my account is valid. fb activated my fb back.

    2. ulol. your’re an idiot. you better look for a different job. sa tingin mo, hanggang kailan ka nila kayang bayaran para gawin yang ginagawa mo?

    3. You started out by calling out your day in the Senate to flaunt you paying taxes and providing the salaries of the Senator. First, it is our duty as Filipinos to pay our taxes and you can’t account that the money taken from you was the one who went to these Senators even a single centavo. Don’t be too conceited. Then you contradict everything by saying there’s no need for the inquiry. The problem with fake news is that most of the people are only using free FB and they do not have the means to validate the facts and this is where the creator of fake news comes in, they capitalize on these weakness to advance their own propaganda. Just to share what Goebbels said : “a lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. If you tell the same lie enough times, people will believe it; and the bigger the lie, the better”

    4. In case you miss it Contreras , mass reporting was started by Pro Duterte page Duterte Cyber Warriors, they even encouraged their followers to target dissenters’ relatives and friends. And even before that there is a secret group called El Matador Recoletos which has been in existence since at least Feb 2016 that also do mass reporting of FB dissenters.

    5. “As for fake news, nothing beats having a healthy sense of discernment and common sense to acquire the skill of knowing when is news fake and when it is not. ” Haven’t you noticed Mr. Contreras that most people who believed in and spread fake news are coming from your side? The problem is your fellow DDS are lacking that skill to determine which are fake and which are not. Pakisagot na rin ito – Bakit si Lugaw Queen ang parating target ng tropa mo (Mocha, Sassot, TP, Maharlika at Mr. Riyoh)? Why do you label all critics of the president as “dilawan”?

    6. I am really sad to know that I am partly paying the salaries and perks of senators Trillanes, Aquino and Pangilinan to act like clowns instead of producing legislation that will help make: travel to work easier and faster, internet to be cheaper and faster, electricity rates to be reduced, water rates to be reduced and salaries of private and public employees to be living wages.

    7. Great Professor! I hope you would be invited at the Senate very soon to answer all those shenanigans and flesh out their ignorance!