An expert warned that as the Election 2022 approaches, attacks on the free press and fake news in the Philippines will intensify.
At an online forum of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Gilbert Andres of the Center for International Law said the spread of fake news is likely to worsen to set the agenda for voters.
He said it is expected that the “troll armies,” which are said to be the machinery to attack government critics, will also become more widespread.
“If you look at the history of our press, especially last 2016, there was a rise in the false information, and that might be the case also in 2022,” said Andres.
The troll farm is an organized and systematic group that attacks supporters and political opponents using the internet.
Some of them, reposters, retweets, memes makers, and influencers who have many followers on their social networking sites.
They are paid for spreading fake news.
Proliferation of fake news likely to worsen as Election 2022 nears – experts
Professor Jonathan Ong, a disinformation researcher at Harvard University, said that just before the 2016 election, troll farms flourished based on their studies and even in the 2019 midterm elections.
But now, he said, the trolls have changed their strategy to prevent their fake accounts from being suspended, especially since they can be easily identified as on Facebook.
He said there are legal ways to attack the media.
“We have seen how the administration deals with critical organizations, such as the ABS-CBN, as well as Rappler, so expect that the administration might resort not only to cyber libel but, well, as provisions, on different crimes under the Anti-Terrorism Act,” he said.
“So you can see that there are legal mechanisms, a lawfare that might be used on critical reportage.”
It will be recalled that under the current administration, Congress refused to grant a new franchise to ABS-CBN due to alleged network violations, something that ABS-CBN’s management has also denied.
Malacañang has repeatedly denied the allegations against ABS-CBN and Rappler as an attack on the free press, saying that President Rodrigo Duterte did not order any attack on the media.