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Business groups decry abuse, hate on social media ahead of Eleksyon 2022

Philippine business groups denounced disinformation and hate speech in social media ahead of the 2022 polls, which they said could have long-lasting effects moving forward.

In a statement released Monday, local business groups called on political players to consider the impact of their efforts in social media, and encouraged them not to engage in “abuse” and to urge their supporters to remain civil.

The business groups also called on operators of social media and other platforms to consider what they are allowing to happen, and to disclose to the public the steps they are taking to address such abuses.

“Together with other members of society, the business community has watched with concern how social media, media, and other platforms have been abused by multiple partners in recent years,” the statement read.

“They have been used to spread disinformation and hate speech, resulting in erroneous beliefs, confusion, and division. We are losing the trust and unity we need to work together to better our lives, livelihoods, and society especially amid the pandemic crisis,” it added.

The statement was signed by the Bankers Association of the Philippines, the Cebu Business Council, the Chamber of Thrift Banks, the Energy Lawyers Association of the Philippines, and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce of Industry.

Other signatories are the Filipina CEO Circle, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, the Integrity Initiative Inc., the Investment Houses Association of the Philippines, and the Judicial Reform Initiative.

The statement was also signed by the Management Association of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, the Mindanao Business Council, the Philippine Business Council, the Philippine Business for Education, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Philippine Life Insurance Association, the Philippine Retailers Association, and the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association.

“We watch with alarm how this abuse has spiked during this election season. We fear the damage may be long-lasting,” the statement read.

“The abuse comprises lies, personal attacks, trolling, misogyny, ‘red-tagging,’ and many more, sometimes pulling people at risk of physical harm,” it added.

The business sector acknowledged that it plays a significant role through advertising spending, and voiced support for ongoing efforts to create tools that businesses and advertisers can use to assist them in this evaluation in the near future.

“Finally, we call on our countrymen and women to evaluate political players as well as these media and communications platforms on these same terms, and use their votes and clicks to promote truth and civility in the coming elections,” the statement read.

Commission on Elections Spokesperson James Jimenez last week said it is “unlikely” for the 2022 polls to be canceled due to a COVID-19 surge, but noted that this could be postponed in certain areas.—LDF, GMA News