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Philippine presidential candidates say social media platforms should be held accountable

Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo announces her candidacy for the presidency, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

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MANILA, March 19 (Reuters) – The Philippines’ presidential candidates on Saturday agreed on at least one thing: the need to hold social media companies accountable for spreading misinformation as the country is preparing for the May 9 elections.

With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting traditional campaigns, candidates and supporters are increasingly turning to social media to reach voters, raising concerns about hate speech and misinformation online.

“Social media platforms should be held accountable for harboring misinformation,” Vice President and Opposition Leader Leni Robredo said during the debate.

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Retired boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, also a presidential candidate, said the creators of fake news should be punished.

Another candidate, Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso, also said social media companies should be held accountable for allowing fake accounts on their platforms.

The candidates did not name which social media companies could be sanctioned.

Representatives for Facebook (FB.O) of Meta Platforms, YouTube, Twitter and Alphabet’s TikTok (GOOGL.O), all popular social media platforms in the Philippines, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Leading candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr did not participate in the presidential debate organized by the country’s electoral body.

Analysts say the popularity of Marcos, the namesake and son of the late dictator of the Philippines, stems from an effective social media strategy targeting young people.

More than 67 million Filipinos are eligible to vote on May 9 to select the Southeast Asian nation’s next president, vice president and about 18,000 local officials.

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Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; edited by Jason Neely

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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