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Poe says fake news ‘cultivates culture of lying, creates lynch mobs’

Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday said fake news, if left unchecked, “cultivates a culture of lying” and “creates lynch mobs” that can be unleashed to destroy people and institutions.

Poe made the statement during the Senate public information committee’s first hearing on fake news.

“If unchecked, fake news cultivates a culture of lying. If purveyors are allowed to get away with the lies, they embolden government officials to also lie in order to escape accountability, crush dissent, and commit illegal acts with immunity,” Poe said.

“If fake news is not challenged, it will create lynch mobs out of certain people turning them into an army of character assassins that can be unleashed with one meme to destroy an idea, a person or an institution,” she said.

Poe also warned that online behavior of people can be mimicked on how they act in real life.

She said the kind of conversation that needs to be promoted is one that “educates and enlightens” and that is “based on the truth and not the kind that disrespects facts.”

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who last week delivered a privilege speech denouncing blog posts criticizing him and other administration senators as “Malacañang dogs,” called out those supposedly hiding behind blogs to attack the administration.

Sotto pointed out that during the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, those opposed to his government did not hide behind anonymity.

“Ngayon, malalakas ang loob ng iba na tirahin ang gobyerno dahil nagtatago sa likod ng mga computer,” Sotto said.

Last week, several senators from the majority bloc cried foul for being targeted by the Silent No More PH when it was supposedly made to appear that they purposely did not sign the Senate resolution urging the Duterte administration to address the spate of senseless killings, especially of children.

The seven senators who did not sign the resolution were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto, Richard Gordon, Gringo Honasan, Manny Pacquiao, Cynthia Villar, and Miguel Zubiri.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan put it simply: “Fake news is lying.”

“Fake news is lying and lying is wrong. If we ought to survive it as a nation, then we must remember simple truths. Hindi tama ang magsinungaling and the lying must stop,” Pangilinan said. — RSJ, GMA News