A petition to suspend the Facebook page of Mocha Uson, a Filipino celebrity blogger and staunch supporter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, is making the rounds. The Suspend Mocha Uson Blog Facebook Page on Change.org has, as of this writing, attracted almost 26,000 signatories with the following write up set to be “delivered” to Facebook.
Mocha Uson, a Filipino entertainer-turned-Duterte die-hard supporter uses her Facebook page to spread fictitious and false information about pressing issues in the Philippines, from the role the USAID plays in the country to malicious and false news concerning other government officials, eliciting unwarranted hate from the public. The said Facebook page widens the rift between those who support the current administration and those who are critical of it.
Uson’s Facebook page Mocha Uson Blog is a formidable social media presence with 4.3 million subscribers (“Likes”) and, on the back of that following, a reach that rivals the major corporate media outlets in the Philippines.
The Philippine political landscape of late has been starkly polarised into two camps — supporters of Duterte and “all the rest”. The “Yellow Camp” comprising supporters of former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III and his endorsed bet who lost in the 2016 presidential elections, Mar Roxas, are said to account for the bulk of the latter.
Uson’s popularity and access to Malacanang have made her the target of vicious attacks from anti-Duterte Netizens. Even mainstream media outlets such as Rappler have attempted to write her off as a quack. In a series of articles denouncing the way Duterte supporters have all but “weaponized” the Internet, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa even blamed the algorithm used by Facebook to prioritise what content gets displayed on users’ timeline for Uson’s rise to prominence writing that “algorithms don’t distinguish fact from fiction.”
So does Mocha Uson’s Facebook page deserve to be suspended?
Facebook’s Community Standards don’t explicitly stipulate regulation applicable to what the Change.org petition alleges about Uson; that she supposedly uses her page to “spread fictitious and false information about pressing issues in the Philippines”.
And, even then, where the accuracy of content in hers or any page is deemeddebatable, well, that is supposedly a content producer’s goal — to publish content that engages its audience. That one, in particular, Facebook does encourage in its guidelines…
People use Facebook to share their experiences and to raise awareness about issues that are important to them. This means that you may encounter opinions that are different from yours, which we believe can lead to important conversations about difficult topics.
Perhaps Filipinos just need to learn to deal with important conversations and deal with difficult topics. That is, after all, the whole point of the free market of ideas that is the essence of social media.