Media platforms

Empower social media platforms

Judging by global developments, the possibility of making social media and Internet platforms accountable for their content is gaining momentum. Just before the pandemic, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg found himself in front of members of the United States Congress. In the UK, many high-profile figures have been hounded by investigative journalists and government officials in connection with the Cambridge Analytica scandals. Just recently, an Australian federal court ordered Google to pay an Australian politician $515,000 for failing to remove defamatory videos posted on its YouTube platform. According to a report by INSIDER on Facebook, “New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro sued Google for refusing to take down two videos that a judge later found to be defamatory.” The case stems from political comments “published in 2020 by political commentator Jordan Shanks” who “apologized to Barilaro in a settlement last year and paid him $71,000 in damages.”

In his ruling, Federal Court Judge Stephen Rares reportedly said that while public criticism accompanies the territory as a politician, “hate speech and constant vitriolic public cyberbullying cannot, however, be classified as means of communication. acceptable. in a democratic society governed by law. By “refusing to remove videos in 2020, Google allowed cyberbullying to proliferate.” The judge was further quoted as saying, “Google was integral to this disgusting behavior because it facilitated, posted, and maintained this and similar videos on YouTube.”

This case in Australia is quite interesting because of its similarities to the defamation case brought against Maria Ressa by a local businessman who claims that what prompted him to pursue the case was the continued presence of the material allegedly offensive. There are also the issues with the “community standards” that social media platforms impose, in contrast to their lack of police trolls, local hate speech and, more recently, their failure or unrestrained response to deleting accounts. illegal online sabong, etc. doesn’t even include all those embarrassing YouTube videos, horrific images of accidents, acts of violence, etc.

Imagine how you would feel if you were Chris Rock and your grandkids kept seeing videos of Will Smith slapping you during the Oscars? Or videos and photographs of a crime scene where a family member was abused and murdered? Even the simple “most embarrassing videos” of our lives being perpetually available on the web can be tormenting. Why can all of this live on forever in a time when everyone is talking about “intellectual property rights”, copyrights, privacy and defamation?

Congress should start improving all of our laws relating to the digital space, especially in the area of ​​liability and legal liabilities and fines that should be imposed on the internet and social media platforms that have monetized Filipino patronage. Unless we have specific laws, fines or penalties, members of the judiciary would struggle to make the same decisions that the Australian judiciary made against Google. There must be laws that regulate platforms and self-attributed ownership of such content. There should be strict “opt-out” provisions where the continued presence of certain material is deemed offensive, degrading or defamatory, etc. and we have to impose financial penalties, otherwise nothing will happen.

Keep in mind that we live in a country where a van driver/owner can be fined over a million pesos for “colorum” or for operating a van without an excess. The anti-cyber defamation law itself only deals with original source or material, but does not regulate platforms or penalize them for disseminating offensive material. Congress should give more teeth to government regulators, ensure there is a government agency and funding to filter and regulate the digital space and its content. If the broadcasters have the KBP, if the film has the MTRCB, etc., if print journalism is regulated by libel law and the courts, then there should be a regulatory agency that will do the same for social media platforms.

By the way, if the BBM administration wants to raise funds, then tax all revenue generated by social media platforms for those annoying ads and “sponsored” posts that appear on every video posted on Facebook or YouTube.

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In recent interviews on our AGENDA program (Cignal TV), veteran Cebu politician Tommy Osmeña suggested that Congress should realign national holidays to fall on weekends, particularly Fridays, in order to creating “long weekends” that help boost tourism. This is a practice in the United States where the holidays are the first weekend, the 2nd week, etc. This was introduced by Senator Dick Gordon when he was Tourism Secretary and it has certainly encouraged many Filipinos to travel locally. Given the many improvements to toll roads, highways, FastCat ferries and airlines, the adjustment of public holidays as well as weekend departure times would allow travelers to depart on Thursdays after work and enjoy the weekend before returning on Sunday evening or early Monday morning.

In our interview with Senator Rissa Hontiveros, we discussed reorganizing the bureaucracy so that departments such as DENR and DOTr can be split for efficiency as well as check and balance. The environmental functions of government are regulatory in nature and should be separate from the management of natural resources. Regarding the DOTr, Congress should consider removing the LTO from the DOTr and turning it into the Department of Motor Vehicle because the DOTr has too much to do and the history of major mistakes and interference by DOTr bosses with the LTO is the reason the agency can’t get out of the rut they find themselves in. They cannot even spend part of the money they earn for operational needs.

We have also proposed the creation of an independent “Renewable Energy Agency” to promote renewable energy. If we want improvements, we have to make changes in the bureaucracy.


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