Senate opens probe on fake news, troll farms

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2017 09:54 AM | Updated as of Oct 04 2017 10:02 AM

MANILA - The Senate committee on public information and mass media on Wednesday began tackling pending legislation against the proliferation of misleading news.

"This nation is churning out fake news in an industrial scale. While it seems that manufacturing is down, fake news factories are booming. While agricultural output is low, that of troll farms is high," Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the committee, said in her opening address.

Poe said the committee seeks to enlighten the public against false claims as "fake accounts are able to sway public opinion, shape civic discourse, affect social interaction and influence government."

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III last week urged the panel to probe the "fake news" spread by the "Silent No More PH" blog, which has been critical of the administration.

Sotto particularly fumed over the blog's article about 7 senators, including himself, who did not sign Senate resolution 516 which called on the government to stop the recent spate of killings. He said the resolution did not reach their office.

The same article hurled insults against Senate President Koko Pimentel and Senators Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Migz Zubiri, Gringo Honasan and Manny Pacquiao.

Villar insinuated that minority senators Risa Hontiveros and Bam Aquino were involved with the blog.

“They told me that two senators are out to destroy us. Sen. Risa and Bam daw. But I did not believe that until this thing happen. So I thought, maybe this is the start,” Villar said.

Hontiveros and Aquino, who have had their share of cyber bullying, denied the allegations.

Senator Francis Pangilinan later apologized, saying there was no intention to exclude any senator from signing Resolution 516.

Watch a live streaming of the hearing on fake news here.