Category: Fake News

Fake News: View of a non-journalist

  By Rev. Fr. Ramon D. Echica [Based on his talk at the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) media forum during Cebu Press Freedom Week 2019, held at MBF Cebu Press…

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By Rev. Fr. Ramon D. Echica

[Based on his talk at the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) media forum during Cebu Press Freedom Week 2019, held at MBF Cebu Press Center in Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City last Sept. 19, 2019. The other speaker at the forum was Jason A. Baguia, a  communication teacher-researcher at U.P. Cebu and former Cebu Daily News columnist.]

I am offering my reflections on fake news neither as a cleric nor part of the academe, although I also cannot leave these two hats behind. I like to think that this piece simply comes from a non-journalist, sharing his thoughts to the professional practitioners of journalism.

The landscape of mainstream media is changing rapidly in large part because of social media. Like almost all things, this novel phenomenon has its upsides and downsides. On the former, social media connects people. It is now possible to talk to someone miles away, and free of charge. Indeed, most people believe they are better off with social media than with none.


It is fake news when it is used by political leaders to harass journalists and there is threat of greater harm. Media consumers need to think critically. And journalists can be more honest about their biases and not fail to apologize for their mistakes.


But on its downside, in its social media where people show their narcissism. People post on facebook some trashy materials and what should not be for public consumption. There seems to be an information overload because of social media. Furthermore, one inevitably compromises one’s privacy if one enters into social media.

 Dramatizing discourse

On the political front, social media democratizes discourse. Before the advent of social media, Juan de la Cruz participates in political discourse mainly through the ballot. If Juan de la Cruz wants to be heard through media, he is to write a letter to the editor, and very few have the talent and the patience to do so. But today, anyone can make a post.

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STATEMENT

Cebu Citizens-Press Council Saturday, July 27, 2019 Senator Sotto’s bill doesn’t define ‘false content’ and grants arbitrary power of virtual censorship to government bureaucrats. ​​The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) earnestly…

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Cebu Citizens-Press Council
Saturday, July 27, 2019


Senator Sotto’s bill doesn’t
define ‘false content’ and grants
arbitrary power of virtual
censorship to government
bureaucrats.


​​The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) earnestly asks Senate President Vicente Sotto III to restudy his Senate Bill #9, filed last July 1, 2019, which seeks to prohibit “publication and proliferation of false content” in the internet.

What CCPC believes are the major defects of the bill:

[a] It defines “content” but not “false content,” which is what the Sotto bill seeks to prohibit.

CCPC found the same flaw in Sen. Joel Villanueva’s “fake news” bill, SB 1492 in the 17th Congress. Not specifically defining “false content” will open media — and the rest of the public using the internet — to orders from DOJ to rectify, take down or block access or even prosecution.

The absence of a definition that excludes errors of publication or lapses in editing – violations of journalism norm or standard , as distinguished from malicious falsehood – makes media vulnerable to harassment and persecution from those offended by the published material, mostly public officials.

​​[b] It vests huge power on the DOJ Office of Cybercrime, which can issue those rectify/take-down/block-access orders on complaint or “motu propio” without hearing the alleged offender. The DOJ cybercrime office can exercise its powers without due process; it alone determines “sufficient basis.”

And appeal is made only to the DOJ secretary, enabling one office in one department of the government virtual “censorship” functions. What may alarm is that the procedure allows instant judgment on falsehood with a bureaucrat’s decision promptly executed until it is reversed by a higher bureaucrat.

​​The intention is to shoot down false or fake news. The casualty could be free press and free speech instead.

Pachico A. Seares, Executive Director
Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC)

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Why CCPC has defined fake news

Legislators need to know that the phrase is also used by some people to refer to errors in editing and reporting and the proposed law might make such errors punishable…

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Legislators need to know that the phrase is also used by some people to refer to errors in editing and reporting and the proposed law might make such errors punishable as a crime. As in libel, where presence of malice is required, errors committed mostly in the rush of deadline cannot be criminal unless made knowingly or maliciously. Otherwise, it would impair the right to free speech and free press.  Continue Reading

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Legitimate media as source of fake news

Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has identified as fake news “promoters” these three: spammers or unethical advertisers, state actors, and legitimate media. And legitimate media, he said, pose the…

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Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has identified as fake news “promoters” these three: spammers or unethical advertisers, state actors, and legitimate media.

And legitimate media, he said, pose the “most challenging” threat. Spammers may be removed although it could take time and diligence. State actors like Russia and other countries with their bot armies can be dealt with by the nations attacked such the U.S. which documented Russian meddling in its 2016 elections. Continue Reading

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How media users view fake news: ‘more of degree…’

[Related Media’s Public columns: “Villafuerte’s bill on fake news oppressive,” Feb. 17, 2018; “House fake news bill punishes errors in reporting and editing,” March 24, 2018; “Bong Go’s idea of…

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[Related Media’s Public columns: “Villafuerte’s bill on fake news oppressive,” Feb. 17, 2018; “House fake news bill punishes errors in reporting and editing,” March 24, 2018; “Bong Go’s idea of fake news,” Feb. 24, 2018]

A SURVEY conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) and Oxford University showed that media users see no clear distinction between authentic news and fake news.

“It’s one of degree rather than clear distinction,” said a summary of findings of the survey that used data from online media users in focus group discussions in the first half of 2017. Continue Reading

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House ‘fake news’ bill punishes errors in reporting and editing

IN House Bill #6022 filed by Rep. Luis Raymond Villafuerte Jr., definitions of “fake news” and “false/inaccurate reports” include mistakes in reporting and editing. And for mass media outlets, penalty…

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IN House Bill #6022 filed by Rep. Luis Raymond Villafuerte Jr., definitions of “fake news” and “false/inaccurate reports” include mistakes in reporting and editing.

And for mass media outlets, penalty is a gigantic fine (P1 million to P5 million) and, obviously unconstitutional, suspension of operations from one week to one month.

And worse, for the news organization, traditional or online, it doesn’t matter “whether or not such mass media outlet knows of the falsity (of the news) and regardless of intent.” Continue Reading

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Lacson complaint, Roque objection on ‘fake news’

TWO news stories, which broke out on the same day (Thursday, March 15), highlight two major issues about fake news.  Sen. Panfilo Lacson said in an “Inquirer” story he was…

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TWO news stories, which broke out on the same day (Thursday, March 15), highlight two major issues about fake news. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said in an “Inquirer” story he was a victim of “fake news” when in 2001 senior military officers under then president Gloria Arroyo accused him of stashing in foreign bank accounts “hundreds of millions of dollars” he allegedly piled up from criminal activities when he was PNP chief.  Continue Reading

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Villafuerte’s House bill on fake news oppressive

Journalists’ eyes have been focused on Senate Bill #1492 filed by Sen. Joel Villanueva, drawn by committee hearings where PCOO Asst. Secretary Mocha Uson and other “famous” bloggers who allegedly…

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Journalists’ eyes have been focused on Senate Bill #1492 filed by Sen. Joel Villanueva, drawn by committee hearings where PCOO Asst. Secretary Mocha Uson and other “famous” bloggers who allegedly peddle fake news testified.

Few have looked at House bill #6622 filed by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr.

Both bills seek to penalize fake news. The Senate bill is “an act to penalize malicious distribution of false news and other related violation.” The House bill is labeled “Anti-Fake News Act of 2017,” “an act prohibiting creation and distribution of fake news.” Continue Reading

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Bong Go’s idea of ‘fake news’: bad news, news he doesn’t like

Special presidential assistant Bong Go, testifying last Feb. 19 before the Senate committee, dramatized the erroneous concept of “fake news.” “Fake news,” a.k.a. “false news” is fabricated content, something concocted,…

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Special presidential assistant Bong Go, testifying last Feb. 19 before the Senate committee, dramatized the erroneous concept of “fake news.”

“Fake news,” a.k.a. “false news” is fabricated content, something concocted, a piece of fiction, falsehood wrapped in some shred of fact.

Go said Rappler, the digital news site, and Inquirer, the print broadsheet, reported his alleged intervention in the choice of systems for the navy’s frigates ?- and, he stressed, they were fake news. Continue Reading

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Pope Francis, fake news, and snakes in the garden

Jan. 24 was feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. This May 13 is Vatican’s World Communication Day. And what had Pope Francis to say?  Pope…

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Jan. 24 was feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. This May 13 is Vatican’s World Communication Day. And what had Pope Francis to say? 

Pope Francis’s message, contained in a document titled “The Truth Will Set Your Free: Fake News and Journalism for Peace” and released Wednesday, was inevitably about media — and fake news. Continue Reading

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