Philippines warns journalists out to ‘destroy’ Duterte

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa after attending a hearing at Manila Regional Trial Court in the Philippines. Ressa is among those accused of allegedly plotting against Duterte. (AP Photo)
Updated 22 April 2019
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Philippines warns journalists out to ‘destroy’ Duterte

  • Caution follows reports alleging family involvement in drugs and raising questions about increase in president’s wealth
  • The news organizations named have all reported extensively on Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs that has left more than 5,000 suspects dead

MANILA: The Philippine government on Monday warned the press against plotting to “destroy” President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, as his spokesman accused journalists of spreading fake news.
The warning followed recent local news reports alleging the Duterte family’s involvement in illegal drugs and raising questions about a large increase in his wealth.
“They are all there doing their thing, trying to destroy this government by spreading false news and planting intrigues against the government,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo told a news conference.
He released a graphic which he said showed how a video of a hooded man alleging the Duterte family’s role in the narcotics trade was shared by one journalist to colleagues employed by other Philippine news outfits.
The news organizations named have all reported extensively on Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs that has left more than 5,000 suspects dead at the hands of the police in what rights groups have said may be a crime against humanity.
Panelo said the ouster allegations were based on information shared by a foreign intelligence agency which he would not name.
“In other words, what these people are doing is to give succour or assist the enemy, if they are not the enemy themselves,” Panelo said.

 

Last week Duterte publicly lashed out at the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which published a report about the rise in the president’s net worth.
“In the coming weeks, I will return the favor. So Philippine Investigative, you better stop,” Duterte said.
Panelo said on Monday that the Duterte government was putting these journalists and news outfits on notice but would not pursue legal action against them “for now.”
“But if the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already violation(s) of the penal laws, that’s a different story,” Panelo added.
The comments came weeks after the government twice briefly detained Maria Ressa, chief executive of the online news site Rappler over tax evasion, securities fraud and other charges.
Panelo named Ressa and Rappler, PCIJ, and Vera Files, among others, in the list of news organizations allegedly plotting against Duterte.
He accused Ellen Tordesillas, the Vera Files president, of spreading the video clip alleging Duterte family involvement in the narcotics trade.
Ressa, tweeting about the ouster allegations, called them “ludicrous” and “yet another (presidential) palace ploy to harass journalists.”
Panelo said that the government has “never stifled dissent in this country.”
Tordesillas called the supposed ouster plot “downright false,” while PCIJ has said its reports were all based on documents issued by Duterte himself in his required annual filings on assets and liabilities.

FASTFACTS

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has in previous years lashed out at critical media outfits, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper and broadcaster ABS-CBN. He threatened to go after their owners over alleged unpaid taxes or block the network’s franchise renewal application.


Facebook CEO says delay in flagging fake Pelosi video was ‘execution mistake’

Updated 27 June 2019
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Facebook CEO says delay in flagging fake Pelosi video was ‘execution mistake’

  • The video, a type of realistic alteration known as a “deepfake,” was slowed to make Pelosi’s speech seem slurred and edited to make it appear that she repeatedly stumbled over her words

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday said his social media company took too long to flag as false an altered video of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that appeared to show the Democratic Representative slurring and tripping through a speech.
Zuckerberg, speaking at a conference in Aspen, Colorado, said the slow response was “an execution mistake on our side.”
The video, a type of realistic alteration known as a “deepfake,” was slowed to make Pelosi’s speech seem slurred and edited to make it appear that she repeatedly stumbled over her words. After the video surfaced last month, it was widely shared on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.
YouTube took down the video, citing policy violations, but Facebook did not remove the clip, only limiting its distribution and telling users trying to share it that it might be misleading.
“It took a while for our system to flag the video and for our fact checkers to rate it as false... and during that time it got more distribution than our policies should have allowed,” Zuckerberg said.
Pelosi criticized Facebook’s refusal to remove the video and said the incident had convinced her the company knowingly enabled Russian election interference.
Misinformation through altered videos is a rising concern in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election, especially as artificial intelligence (AI) is now being used to produce clips that look genuine and realistically appear to show people saying words they have not spoken. The term “deepfake” is a combination of “deep learning” and “fake.”
After the Pelosi video, Zuckerberg himself was portrayed in a spoof deepfake video on Instagram in which he appears to say “whoever controls the data, controls the future.” Facebook, which owns Instagram, did not to take down the video.
Zuckerberg said Facebook is considering developing a specific policy on deepfakes.
“This is a little bit of sausage making here because we are going through the policy process of thinking through what the deepfake policy should be,” he said. “This is certainly an important area as the AI technology gets better.”