Malacañang on Monday expressed opposition to Facebook’s move to tap online news outlets Rappler and Vera Files for its third-party fact checking program aimed at reducing fake news on the social media platform.
“I would say that the efforts of Facebook to counter fake news is the solution and not legislation. However, there are those who are complaining that the chosen ‘police of the truth,’ so to speak are sometimes partisan themselves and of course this is the problem with truth that can be subjective depending on your political perspective,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a news briefing.
“And that is why I commiserate with those who object to the selection of Rappler and Vera Files because they know, we know where they stand in the political spectrum,” he added.
Rappler earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte because of its critical reports. Vera Files has been fact checking the President’s claims in his speeches, evaluating the truthfulness of his statements.
Heads of Rappler and Vera Files have been called to testify in a Senate probe on the proliferation of fake news online and have pointed to the Duterte camp as a source of false information.
With the launch of Facebook’s third-party fact checking initiative, supporters of Duterte threatened to leave Facebook and urged the public to transfer to Russian social media platform VK.
Rappler and Vera Files were tapped by Facebook to regulate content shared on the social media platform.
The third-party fact-checkers will also provide more contexts to improve the quality and authenticity of stories in the News Feed.
Earlier, musician and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. executive Jimmy Bondoc threatened to leave Facebook if the fact checking initiative with Vera Files and Rappler pushes through.
Bondoc said he would stay on the social media platform because of the petition asking Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg not to choose Vera Files and Rappler.
Roque said the Palace was not discounting the possibility of Duterte’s supporters on Facebook shifting to another sites following the network’s effort.
“It’s a free market place of ideas. My advice is for the Facebook users to make their wishes known to Facebook and of course the possibility of shifting is always there. Of course there’s a worldwide movement to delete Facebook not just because of their moves in the Philippines but because also of privacy concerns,” he added.
In a separate statement, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) also expressed its opposition to Facebook’s tie-up with the two online news outlets.
“We give our all-out support to them in their efforts to combat the creation and spread of false news that have poisoned our shared space and dumbed down, if not encouraged, vicious discourse in our online community—and that has served no one in any good way,” Presidential Communications Undersecretary for New Media Lorraine Marie Badoy said.
But she added, “We would also like to register our protest at the choice of fact-checkers by Facebook.”
Badoy said PCOO officials would raise their concerns with the social media platform during a meeting.
“This will be on the agenda when we finally get to sit with them soon. Efforts are underway for both the PCOO and Facebook to sit across the table and discuss and hopefully, reach agreements that will get us closer to our shared goal of responsible and intelligent use of social media,” she said.