Trillanes, Pangilinan want Senate probe on ‘fake news,’ social media trolls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — "Fake news" threatens national security, and two lawmakers want the Senate to get to the bottom of it.

Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis Pangilinan filed separate resolutions seeking a legislative inquiry into the proliferation of made-up stories and online trolls--internet users who deliberately make offensive or provocative posts using fake social media accounts.

"Fake news" and trolls are "a threat to national security," Trillanes told CNN Philippines' "The Source" on Thursday.

Trillanes said fake news and their websites should be taken down "because you can now put in candidates that may be detrimental actually to the interest of the nation." He cited reports that such fake news may have allegedly affected the results of the 2016 U.S. elections.

Also read: The plague of fake news is getting worse – here's how to protect yourself

Pangilinan in a statement agreed that the "propagation of fake news stories has become an effective weapon of several political operatives to influence public opinion and national discourse."

Trillanes also said some politicians would even tap so-called social media influencers to put up fraudulent stories that are favorable to them. Trolls earn up to $2,000 per month, the senator said.

Aside from influencing public opinion, Trillanes said trolls also are dangerous because they engage in cyber bullying and harassment.

He said he himself had his personal social media accounts deactivated after falling prey to social media trolls.

Pangilinan wants Facebook penalized for fake news

In Senate Resolution 271 which he filed Wednesday, Pangilinan said social media giant Facebook should be held liable for falsified stories that it allows to be circulated on its network.

Pangilinan said his proposed measure was inspired by the German legislators' fight against hoax information. Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier said the thought that fake news affected the U.S. elections was a "crazy idea," the company now attaches warning labels to fraudulent stories ahead of the German elections.   

Trillanes welcomed the possibility of merging his proposed resolution to Pangilinan's and said they will bring the matter up to the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, headed by Grace Poe.