The camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. cried sabotage, denying involvement in the text blasts using the disaster emergency alert platform that endorsed his bid for the presidency.
The National Telecommunications Commission has launched a probe into the text blasts received by mobile phone owners shortly after Marcos filed his certificate of candidacy on Wednesday at the Commission on Elections registration center at the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent.
As the election season heats up, candidates and voters alike should want proper regulation of the use of digital technology and social media for partisan purposes. While digital platforms can be used to promote the qualities of a candidate, they can also be extremely useful for smear campaigns and, as the Marcos camp described the text blasts, for the sabotage of candidacies.
Around the world, regulating social media has been a challenge for authorities. The Commission on Elections has admitted the difficulty of regulating expenditures and other aspects of campaigning on digital platforms.
When an opportunity for regulation presents itself, however, the Comelec and NTC must not hesitate to carry out their mandate. Rival candidates and their supporters can serve as each other’s watchdogs, monitoring social media and calling the attention of regulators when they believe social media platforms are being used for unfair campaigning.
This election season should lead to measures that will improve the regulation of information disseminated through social media. The measures must be complemented by efforts to promote public literacy about all forms of media, from traditional to the new and ever evolving digital platforms. The efforts would not only promote discipline during election campaigns but also help voters make informed choices on election day.