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Duterte did not promote fake news on FB to win votes – Roque to MSNBC

/ 07:47 AM December 30, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte did not push fake news to win the presidential vote, his spokesperson said Friday, disputing an MSNBC report that his team went into overdrive promoting fake news after a Facebook briefing in 2016.

The then Davao City mayor, like other candidates, took advantage of the platform offered by Facebook to advance his campaign in the 2016 presidential elections, Harry Roque said.

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Mr. Duterte has no policy of promoting fake news, he said.

According to Roque, Mr. Duterte used the tools available to him during the campaign.

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Campaign tool

“The technology exists and it would have been foolhardy for any political candidate not to tap Facebook as a campaign tool. All candidates did so,” he said.

“Unfortunately for his detractors, President Duterte appeared to have been the best candidate who utilized Facebook the most,” he added.

In a 10-minute segment aired Wednesday, MSNBC’s The Beat news anchor Ari Melber reported that Facebook had flown into the Philippines three of its employees who spent a week holding training sessions with candidates’ campaign team, including Duterte’s.

“But giving tips to a few campaigns in a constitutional democracy can be different from  giving tips to this authoritarian, Duterte. And Facebook learned that quickly,” Melber said.

“In fact, after his team got that Facebook briefing, his allies went into overdrive pushing fake news and accounts, along with his wider campaigns. And that brings us back—guess who—well, it’s the Pope,” he added.

Pope for Duterte

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Melber cited the widely-shared fake news on March 22, 2016 about Pope Francis endorsing Duterte — a similar story that made rounds online in the United States with the Pope endorsing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump just before their polls in November last year.

“And this is basically a kind of a sign that if you get a Pope endorsement, you are the fake news candidate,” he stressed.

P10-M online campaign

Mr. Duterte earlier admitted that his team hired a social media team during the campaign to promote and defend him online, but he said this was only during the election period.

He was responding to a University of Oxford study which showed that his camp spent P10 million for his social media campaign.

Roque said the internet should be allowed to thrive and ideas should be shared on it freely.

“The internet is the physical manifestation of 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 government, he said.

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TAGS: elections 2016, Facebook, fake news, Harry Roque, Rodrigo Duterte
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