‘Spreading foul election memes could lead to online libel raps’
Anti-cybercrime police warned paid trolls spreading destructive memes against politicians, particularly those running in the national elections this year, that they may be charged with online libel.
Should a politician pursue criminal charges against individuals damaging his reputation through Internet, the Anti-Cybercrime Group of the Philippine National Police said it could easily track down sources of libelous contents on social media.
Even if paid hacks use anonymous profiles or rent computers in a public shop, the ACG has means of tracing their location and identities.
Supt. Jay Guillermo, ACG spokesperson, particularly warned groups who are paid by a certain politician to defame his rival on several social networking sites that harsher penalties await them.
“If we are able to identify them at ma-confiscate natin ang computers nila as evidence that they are using to upload information to discredit another person, mas malaki (ang penalty) kapag na-identify sila,” Guillermo said.
(If we are able to identify them and confiscate their computers as evidence that they use to upload information to discredit another person, their penalties would be greater.)
He said spreading offensive memes against anyone is a violation of a person’s constitutional rights.
“If we are able to trace kung saan ang source niyan (where the source of that is), we will file cases against these persons. If someone was affected [by] the information that you are uploading on the Internet, syempre (of course), (that’s a) violation ‘yan ng (of the ) constitutional rights ng isang tao (of a person),” he said.
According to PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, online libel violators may face four to eight years in prison if they would be found guilty by court.
To avoid being charged, Guillermo advised netizens to be careful when posting on Facebook, Twitter and other sites as they have a much wider audience in cyberspace.
“If you’re uploading information on the Internet, you have to examine the proper words you will be using para hindi ka makasira (so that you are not defaming anyone), neutral lang dapat dahil malaki ang (you should use neutral language because you have a bigger) audience when you are uploading information on the Internet,” he said.
The usual victims of insulting memes on social networking sites are presidential candidates Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Grace Poe. CDG