By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Malacañang has defended President Duterte’s use of Facebook during the presidential campaign period in 2016, saying anybody would have used the social media platform to utilize its wide reach.
American news cable and satellite television network MSNBC has put Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg under scrutiny in how the social media platform and fake news played a role in putting President Duterte and United States President Donald Trump in power.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said everybody would utilize technology as vast as Facebook in any way a person sees fit.
“The technology exists and would have been foolhardy for any political candidate not to tap Facebook as a campaign tool,” Roque said.
According to Roque, Duterte’s team was able to utilize the social media platform more effectively than his opponents during the campaign period for the presidential elections.
“All candidates did so, unfortunately for his detractors, President Duterte appeared to have been the best candidate who utilized Facebook the most,” he said.
“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,” he added.
In a report, MSNBC anchor Ari Melber indicated that Facebook became a powerful instrument for Duterte to win the May 2016 elections.
“Facebook is a global company and it was ground zero for this (Russian President Vladimir) Putin-Duterte playbook, long before Zuckerberg was playing naive about fake news,” Melber said in a Dec. 27 report.
Melber added that Facebook had sent employees who held “training sessions” with candidates, including Duterte.
“Giving tips to a few campaigns in a constitutional democracy can be different in giving tips to this authoritarian Duterte. Facebook learned that quickly,” he said.
“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.