Palace dismisses report on FB helping Duterte win election

By , on December 29, 2017

FILE: In a text message to reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. assailed the report as “foul” pointing out that Reuters did not wait for Malacañang's side before publishing the article. (PCOO PHOTO)
FILE: Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (PCOO PHOTO)

With over 16 million voting for him in May 2016, a media report revealed how Facebook and fake news helped in the President’s win – which the Palace chose to dismiss on Friday.

“Well the technology exists and would have been foolhardy for any political candidate not to tap Facebook as a campaign tool,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

“All candidates did so, unfortunately for his detractors, President Duterte appeared to have been the best candidate who utilized Facebook the most,” he further said

The Spokesperson was asked to comment on a report by Ari Melber, a staunch Facebook critic and news anchor in MSNBC – an American news cable and satellite television network. The said report said that Facebook sent employees to hold ‘training sessions’ for political candidates as an aid in their campaign.

Roque also added that, “Again, the internet is the manifestation of the free marketplace of ideas and it should be made to flourish, as freedom of expression is responsible for freedom of thought and public opinion, which we know will fiscalize governments.”

“Facebook is a global company, and it was ground zero for this [Vladimir] Putin-[Rodrigo] Duterte playbook long before [Mark] Zuckerberg was playing naïve about fake news after November, and repeating their mantra, ‘they’re just neutral.’ In fact, there was a whole scandal in that country, the Philippines, over fake news and bots in their election which was – wait for it – held in May 2016,” Melber said.

“Giving tips to a few campaigns in a constitutional democracy can be different in giving tips to this authoritarian Duterte. Facebook learned that quickly. In fact, after his team got that Facebook briefing, his allies went into overdrive, pushing fake news and accounts along with his other wider campaigns,” he added.

Melber also cited the fake news that Pope Francis endorsed the President, which was mirrored, as there was also a fake news in the United States, in which President Donald Trump was endorsed by the Pope.

“If you get a pope endorsement, you are the fake news candidate,” Melber said.