Press Release
August 23, 2019

De Lima urges Google PH to clean up YouTube of fake videos

Senator Leila M. de Lima has asked Google Philippines to take down fake videos populating one of its subsidiaries, notably the video-sharing website YouTube, which becomes the go-to platform of sinister groups to spread lies and misleading content.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said Google Philippines should take concrete and decisive actions to ensure the veracity of the videos and audio clips it allows to be disseminated and shared on its service by cleaning up YouTube of fake clips.

"The continued proliferation of fake videos on YouTube is highly alarming. These fake videos have been widely shared across social media platforms by well-orchestrated network of pages that aim to manipulate reality to advance their political agendas," she said.

"Google Philippines should take this concern seriously and start the crackdown on fake videos, including deep fake videos, on YouTube to free the public from any confusion about what's real and what's fake. This is long overdue," she added.

De Lima cited the findings of a recent research entitled "Tracking Digital Disinformation in the 2019 Philippine Midterm Election" published by New Mandala, an academic blog on Southeast Asian affairs that is hosted by Australian National University.

Based on the research, YouTube played a significant role in the disinformation landscape in the Philippines, especially in the recent May 2019 midterm elections, as it provided space for "alternative news" channels to proliferate.

The research noted several pro-administration YouTube channels, including TOKHANG TV and Duterte NEWS PORTAL, which produced clickbait headlines and "hyper-partisan" contents promoting a political agenda and attacking opposition leaders.

Aside from reeking of "misleading and emotionally arousing" headlines, the research found some 20 pro-administration channels mostly created in 2016 were found to be a cesspool of administration propaganda, historical revisionism, and disinformation.

De Lima, the vocal critic of the administration's bloody war on drugs, said she has since been aware of the malicious content populating YouTube because she has been a constant target of fake news on the said platform, as with other social media platforms.

"I should know. Evil men and women who are behind the fake news stories and videos against me have long been resorting to YouTube, among other social media platforms, to discredit me and make me appear bad in the public's eyes," she said.

"Even though my Senate staff report these online fake news pages and websites regularly, their efforts are not enough to control the proliferation of these fake news videos, especially among overseas Filipino workers," she added.

The lady Senator from Bicol said she believes that Google Philippines and its mother unit would be more responsible in finding innovative ways that could control, if not at all stop, the continued circulation and distribution of fake videos on YouTube.

"The people behind these dubious accounts and channels should also be held accountable for their actions. Media literacy and fact-checking platforms would not suffice unless technology giants like Google contribute in fighting disinformation," she said.

Last January 2017, De Lima delivered a fiery privilege speech to denounce the unabated proliferation of fake news on the Internet and other social networking sites, where she likened fake news to a "virus" that poisons and corrupts the people's mind.

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