De Lima warns vs state-sponsored fake news

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today urged the public to be more vigilant against the official purveyors of fake news across social media platforms, especially those who target critics of the present administration.

De Lima’s statement came after Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa revealed the existence of the so-called “patriotic trolling,” a state-sponsored online hate and harassment campaign “to silence and intimidate.”

“These fake news stories are being encouraged by the President and his lackeys in an attempt to silence dissent and to intentionally defame the reputation of people critical of the administration, thus making the reputation of critics questionable,” she said.

“As responsible social media users, people are expected to always validate the authenticity of the information they read online, much less, if the information is published and shared by people with malicious intentions and shadowy accounts,” she added.

In a recent hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media last Jan. 30, Ressa underscored how De Lima has been systematically victimized and demonized by fake news peddlers across social media platforms. Exposing three deliberate steps on how these sinister groups operate their evil ploy in the context of De Lima, Ressa shared the first move is by attacking the credibility of the target.

“You allege corruption. And then you repeat that exponentially. Because if you say a lie 10 times, truth can catch up. But if you say a lie a million times, that becomes the truth,” Ressa told Senate probers.

Ressa, a veteran journalist, pointed out that the said step is followed by using sexual violence as a weapon which “enflames biases, fuels misogyny, and then degrades the target as a sexual object.”

Finally, Ressa shared, “the last step before taking it into the real world–because there have been four waves of these types of attacks, #ArrestLeiladeLima.”

De Lima, who has been constantly targeted by fake news stories by some sinister quarters, said it is impossible under the present administration to openly express one’s societal and political beliefs without being subjected to harassment.

“The attacks can be worst if you’re a woman like me standing up to Duterte’s bullying,” she said.

She further advised the public to “not allow the cowards who hide behind fake accounts and paid trolls to stop us from speaking our minds in pursuit of truth, justice and the rule of law.”

De Lima, who was recognized by Amnesty International as one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders Under Threat, vowed to continue fighting against injustices while in detention despite the vicious gender-based attacks against her by the President and his lackeys.

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