Philippine Senate inquiry on ‘fake news’ reveals how little people understand about REAL blogging

Another non-surprise today. Cocoy Dayao, the man seemingly at the centre of a vast network of anti-government websites and blogs was a no-show at today’s Senate inquiry into “fake news”. Instead of Dayao, it was Malacanang bloggers RJ “Thinking Pinoy” Nieto and Assistant Secretary for Communications Mocha Uson who had to stand under the harsh light of the senators’ wrath.

The trouble with the Malacanang troops is that they didn’t keep their noses clean enough to evade the potshots of the media-hungry senators they faced today. The house of cards that was effectively taken apart in the Senate today was the rickety edifice of ambiguity both Nieto and Uson had built to justify being both government officials and “bloggers” and their insistence that they could continue to wear the latter hat and remain entitled to the right to speak their minds on that platform the way ordinary private citizens are allowed to do.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

That’s a difficult balancing act and a position virtually impossible to rationalise when your every move and utterance is seen to be made on the taxpayer’s dime. Indeed, the key takeaway was more around a confirmation that, really, none of the parties in this “debate” actually understood what blogging is really all about. That much was clear seeing that the exchange was still peppered with notions of authorities on “credibility”, credentials or the lack of these thereof that determines what one can or cannot publish on mass media platforms, and other such high-horsed concepts that, in reality, are ultimately irrelevant to real bloggers.

Real bloggers owe nobody nothing, see. They owe respect only to their readers’ intelligence. And that, alone, is what keeps real bloggers intellectually honest. The minute you are seen to be blogging on someone else’s dime or under someone’s guidance or editorial oversight, you cease to be the stuff that is made for the jungle that is the blogosphere in its true and original sense. In that context, only the free market of ideas and its Darwinian governance over memetic dominance is what determines who is truly credible and which player wins in the long run.

At the core of the confusion on the “debate” on “fake news” is the runaway banalisation of the term “fake news” itself. No longer a word that describes a precise concept with clarity, it has become a mere buzzword used as a lame label by the numerous screeching shills that dominate the chatter that passes off as political discourse in the Philippines. For that we can heap much of the blame on mainstream news media which, rather than apply the professional discipline to remain precise in its choice of words, instead, also jumped on the “fake news” buzzword bandwagon. Rather than be precisely categorical in referring to specific types of fraudulent or misleading published content, it lazily and sloppily slapped the “fake news” label on everything it deemed to be of dubious or, worse, sub-journalistic quality. And in the process of arbitrarily dividing the memetic landscape between “authentic” and “fake” using this pedestrian buzzword, the whole industry eroded its own ascendancy to any perception of authority to proclaim any such.

This again leaves the only playing field that matters to real bloggers. Try as much as they can, members of the Establishment cannot contain nor regulate those who are truly accountable only to the true free market of ideas. It’s sort of like the Observer Effect in particle physics. There is an effect caused by the act of observation that makes the true state of a system elusive to precise evaluation by observers. Real bloggers are kind of like that. The more you try to categorise them or reduce their work to governable artefacts, the more they slip right through the cracks in your theory.

17 Replies to “Philippine Senate inquiry on ‘fake news’ reveals how little people understand about REAL blogging”

  1. Those Senators are idiots. Bloggers are not bearers of News. They render Opinions on current news and current issues.

    How did we elect these ignorant and idiotic Senators? Thru HOCUS PCOS and SMARTMAGIC, with the blessings of COMELEC’s Andres “Si Latigo” Bautista, with his multiple bank accounts ?

    Thinking Pinoy and Mocha Unson, do not have the answers. Most of the Bloggers, including paid political tools, use aliases or pen names.

    I invite all those idiot Senators to come to debate with us in this GRP website. We will give you a very “bumpy ride” !

    1. I could imagine they’ll simply argue the following…

      Because GRP bloggers stay anonymous, therefore they cannot be trusted. Not using your real identities means that you won’t be held accountable to what you say in your blogs. So what’s stopping you from making “fake news” then? You don’t need to check facts because you won’t be held liable when it’s wrong anyways. You can spout anything you want, influencing your readers regardless if it’s true or not, without worry of persecution.

      This kind of follows the mindset of “If you don’t believe in God, what’s stopping you from doing evil deeds?”

      1. It is the Readers, who have to do the Thinking and Researching of the Veracity of the Blog. If I blog, that you are a “Monkey”; and you find yourself, that you are not swinging from tree to tree; and take a look at yourself : you see yourself, as a Human Being , and not a Monkey.
        Then, you can separate “fact” from “falsehood”, indeed !

  2. A pity this happened to them, especially ThinkingPinoy, whose articles I read weekly for past-time. People basically shifted the blame onto him and are trying to label him a grand propagator of Fake News. He and Mocha were basically scapegoats.

    But I’m pretty sure he did mention this dilemma way back, saying that if he ever chooses to join the government then his “neutrality” will begin to be questioned. His current stance is obviously pro-Duterte, and for that he can’t be expected to go against him anytime soon. I say he should just go back to being just a blogger without being involved in any way with the government.

    His stint against that Marawi Journalist Jes Aznar and NUJP is somewhat dubious. NUJP is obviously going to cover for Jes as failing to prove his “innocence” in all this would discredit the NUJP as an organization, kinda like how they said that RJ Nieto joining DFA just shows “how low the government standards are”.

    Dayao is obviously in hiding, because once people get a hold of him, a big chunk of LP’s propaganda machine would crumble.

    1. Addendum (because I don’t know how to edit posts)

      The way they discredit Thinking Pinoy’s articles and claims very much amuses me. NUJP is calling TP as “fake” without presenting solid evidence to back their counter arguments. Their use of the credibility of “Vera files” as “the only one accredited by the International Fact-Checking wachamacallit” is also shaky. I don’t know what you call it, but using credibility is not a proper defensive argument.

      Granted, TP should also present his solid evidence to prove his point, but I’ve read his articles and most of his fact-finding are very… tech savvy, ones that I doubt anybody in the Senate would understand. Best evidence he can bring are the archived files and snapshots, but the Senate could potentially argue that “oh, we checked those links just now and we can’t see those info anymore (likely after accused parties have deleted incriminatory contents), where did you get those files then? This is the internet and you seem to have the capacity to fake those evidences”.

    2. Yes, I respect TP’s written work a lot although I have some reservations about the way he conducts himself on social media and on video.

      This is the reason why GRP does not follow the model used by other blog admins in the management of our Facebook page. We use our FB page primarily for sharing links and not as a platform for directly sharing visual and text content (i.e. direct FB posting and image uploads). I find that discipline and rigour tend to break down when you site admins are too active on Facebook.

      There is very little (if any) holes that TP’s detractors can poke in the work on the actual ThinkingPinoy site. I think it is the work he posts on FB that is most prone to careless errors and stretched claims and assertions — because the mindset and attitude you apply to FB is vastly different from the mind you apply to writing a proper blog post.

      1. I can’t say much about his FB side, because I do not have FB or any social media (which is probably for the better).

        I can’t verify your claim of his posts in FB, so I’ll trust your word for now. I do hear a lot about him and his social media though. He brags that he has “engagement equal to Inquirer plus Rappler” so I take it means he can reach a lot more people than those two institutions?

        I agree though, that care must be taken when engaging in social media. Influential people can start a witch hunt (intentionally or not) whenever they call somebody out. I’ve seen it happen in some Youtube content creators and it’s obviously applicable as long as any person has a sufficient amount of followers.

    3. It is those who have serious issues of graft and corruption; abuse of power in their terms of offices in the government; incompetents; those who have something to hide from the people , who are afraid of competent and true bloggers.

      Some bloggers are Paid Trolls, and Paid Hacks, financed by evil politicians like Cocoy Dayao, who ran several Blog Websites…

      Some bloggers are well informed and intellectually competent, to inform us…these are, the gems in our times. Because, we are living in the “Best of Times”, and in the “Worse of Times”…

      Some are just here to destroy the reputations of people…

      This is the “good” and “evil” sides of Information Technology. We have to live with it, until a new technology can be introduced, to control this Information Technology !

      1. We’ll never really know the true intentions of TP. For all we know, he could also be a paid blogger who is ordered to attack the opposition. Regardless of his true intentions, what we can assess is the tangible work he is creating. He exposes the dirt under the carpet, the things mass media tend to ignore.

        Right now he is exposing the stink of the anti-admin hate blogs which is now leaning more likely than not to all be orchestrated by a central entity, the Liberal Party.

  3. Beyond their accountability to their readers in the free market of ideas, is their accountability to themselves and their authenticity.

    1. That kind of personal accountability is even rarer in the Philippine setting — far rarer than accountability to one’s society’s ethical standards (which, itself, is already quite rare). It is hard enough to get Filipinos to be accountable to their society, but far harder (almost like explaining colour to a blind person) to impart accountability to one’s self on the average Filipino mind.

  4. With all due respect, the parties understand blogging. Well, Mocha may not, but I think she does, the Senate most certainly does. Questions about credibility and credentials are there to establish that the bloggers have none, which was done handily. I don’t care about Mocha, but it is sad to see Nieto, as he has worked hard for his reputation. I wish he hadn’t taken the position, but any exposure is good exposure.

  5. I wonder if they worked on certain assumptions in that investigation.

    1. Blogging is done for marketing and money. They believe blogging is always done with a political or business motive or connection. So if someone blogs for fun or without any earnings, it’s impossible. Especially if a blog is as popular as Get Real Philippines, there are always big bucks backing it. They should accept though that the opposite is true for many blogs out there.

    2. Blogging is broadcasting to a wide audience, and the mindset seems to be that broadcasting should be a privilege and not a right. Ordinary citizens should not be allowed to broadcast their opinions. Instead, these should be filtered and selected by an “editorial” body. The principle of gatekeepers that I talked about in a previous article.

    This idea of gatekeepers has now outlived its usefulness with the Internet now being in use. I believe the creation of the Internet was due to a desire to get past gatekeepers, because gatekeepers can be biased and can stifle freedom of expression. Instead, the former gatekeepers should just be verifiers of information, checking to see which is true or not. Problem is, they also fail in that. Broadcasting one’s opinions is now a basic individual right – as it always has been.

    1. Tell that to serial blocker Florin Hilbay. That guy has the audacity to spew forth diatribes about freedom, anti-“Tyranny” sentiments et al yet cannot tolerate dissenting viewpoints and even went through such moronic suggestions like forming a “ministry of information”. The Gestapo would blush to this guy. What a complete and utter idiot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.