MANILA - Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday told social media bloggers to be responsible in their pronouncements online especially since they are also government officials.
In a Senate hearing by Poe's committee on public information and mass media, Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson said she too was a victim of fake news, citing instances when mainstream media, such as ABS-CBN and GMA News, supposedly spread wrong information about her.
“Biktima rin ako ng fake news. Ako rin ay na-bash online," she told lawmakers.
Uson also lauded fellow blogger RJ Nieto of the ThinkingPinoy site for "exposing" the person behind a blog that called out 7 senators for supposedly not signing the resolution against the killings of minors.
"Dapat magkaroon ng accountability, may mukha po dapat itong bloggers na ito sa Facebook," she said.
Noting that she does not always agree with what Uson says online, Poe said at least the bloggers present in the hearing revealed their faces and names while the said anonymous blogger did not.
"Nilalabas ninyo ang mga mukha ninyo. Hindi katulad nitong isang hinahabol natin na ang lakas lakas ng loob magsalita, hindi naman nagpapakita dito. We need accountability," she said.
Poe also underscored that while the mainstream news outfits are answerable to their bosses, the bloggers are on their own.
"The mainstream media have to answer to their bosses. They have an internal ombudsman group. They can get fired from their jobs if they don’t do their research properly," she said.
"Whereas the bloggers of course, this is the new media now. You’re accountable to yourselves," she said, while adding that the responsibility on Uson's shoulders are greater since she is a government official.
Poe also asked about the duties and responsibilities of Trixie Angeles, an online personality tapped to be a social media strategist for the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
"What we do is we assist Asec. Mocha among other things, in dealing with the social media accounts...The goal of PCOO is to give out government information—like passing of certain laws, which is necessary to disseminate," said Angeles.
Poe emphasized that these officials are "very opinionated."
"We should also distinguish between political information and also actual government policy," said the senator.
"These things, within your group, I trust that Secretary Martin is also policing yung pabugso-bugsong damdamin (na) lumalabas sa ating (accounts) and we just need to check," she said.
"You also have your reputation to protect, to remain objective, so that’s very important," she added.
Angeles pointed out that "the times are changing" and information is more quickly disseminated through the likes of Uson who has about 5 million online followers. Poe meanwhile stressed that this also means that these personalities carry more responsibility.
"Talagang tinitingala ka ng mga taong ito at maganda ring pagkakataong pagbuklod-bukulod imbes na paghiwa-hiwalay (ang mga tao)," she said.
"Naiintindihan ko kasi first year niyo palang tinitira na kayo, so defensive; but remember, our mandate is to be loyal to the common good, the people," she added.