Andrea Brillantes: Latest victim of social media’s dark underbelly

The Net is on fire in the Philippines over the “viral” spread of a personal video allegedly of Filipino showbiz celebrity Andrea Brillantes. Brillantes, star of the hit TV drama series Annaliza, is only 12 years old. But this fact does not seem to stop online perverts from downloading and sharing the video.

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As of this writing, no one has authoritatively determined whether the video is really one of Brillantes. But regardless of whether it is her or not, the sexually-explicit nature of its content and the purportedly minor age of its subject makes anyone who views it, is in possession of it, or distributes it potentially criminally-liable. Philippine law with regard to the distribution of offensive content involving minors is clear. Republic Act No. 7610 which provides special protection to children against exploitation among other things includes the hosting or exhibiting of “obscene publications and indecent shows” among acts against the wellbeing of minors that is punishable.

However, Philippine society has a spotty record of remaining consistent to the spirit of its laws, even that of laws relevant to the wellbeing of children. Philippine media itself reflects this astounding reality. Get Real Post author ChinoF wrote of this back in 2011 in his article Does Filipino Society treat Children Poorly?

Media however remains one of the most influential factors in treatment of children. And media has often been disrespectful to children, no matter how positively they tried to portray such on TV.

One children’s advocate before, I believe it was Ms. Feny Angeles Bautista, said that media representation of children was always unkind. Children have always been seen as abused, as “slaves of the adults” or as a source of laughter. Filipino media likes to poke fun at kids, and barely treat them with any sort of equality. She said this in 1997 or 1998. It seems very true today.

This is the irony of Filipino society — at once both a noisy “democracy” and a timid, passive-aggressive culture. This mashup of opposing character flaws manifests its resultant psychosis in the infamous Pinoy viral video circuses that made personal hells for Christopher Lao, Robert Carabuena and, Paula Jamie Salvosa. When a people are told they live in a “democracy” in theory then find that in practice they, in reality, actually lack an effective voice then they switch to the more efficient alternative — technology.
So no amount of signing up to pledges will stop the so-called “cyber-bullying” of Pinoy viral video subjects unless the underlying issues that characterise the underbelly of the Filipino psyche are addressed.

The reality of 21st Century living is that the technology to exercise “freedoms” that bypass traditional communication lines to authority figures, institutions, and public servants is now readily available and ubiquitous. This has always been touted by “social media practitioners” as the single greatest thing about the whole shebang of personal mobile devices, the Net, social networking platforms, and the apps that connect us to these.

Andrea Brillantes may be the latest victim of our slowness to grasp just how much power to do both harm and good powerful and readily-accessible information technology has afforded us.

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