Police tracing source of 6 social media posts on nCoV

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) is verifying six social media posts on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and tracing the sources of these posts.

Police Captain Jeck Robin Gammad, ACG spokesperson, said on Wednesday, February 5, said they will seek the removal of these posts if these are found to be false.

“As to the effort of the PNP-ACG po doon sa kumakalat po natin na fake news sa ating mga social media platforms, continuous po ang monitoring doon po sa mga nakikita natin sa ating news feed lalo na po sa FB (Facebook) noong mga allegedly na fake news po,” he said in a press conference.

“As regards naman po sa mga fake news na lumilitaw po sa news feed, we conduct validation po as to the authenticity o kung gaano katotoo ito... halimbawa po 'yung lumalabas sa news feed natin at mga private messages na merong positive na diumano merong nCoV sa Alabang, tinatawag po natin 'yun sa ospital para i-confirm kung totoo nga po ito at kung sakali po na nalalaman natin na di totoo 'yung kumakalat na mga balita, agaran po nating nirereport sa FB Philippines,” he added.

He said an ACG team is dedicated to patrolling social media to combat the spread of fake news which may exacerbate fears over the virus.

Gammad also warned those behind the fake news that they would be charged and they could face imprisonment of six to 12 years.

“Ang mga posible na maaaring i-complain para po doon sa identified na nagpapakalat po ng (fake) info (information) is yun pong tinatawag na PD (Presidential Decree) no. 90 which is declaring local rumor, mongering and spreading false info,” he said.

“Dito po kapag siya po ay ginamitan na ng information communication technology doon sa cybercrime prevention act, one degree higher po ‘yung mapapataw na parusa...equivalent to six years and one day up to 12 years (of imprisonment),” he added.

He said those sharing posts containing false information about the 2019-nCoV may also be held liable.

Gammad said it is easy for the ACG to identify the legitimacy of the account as well as the posts containing hoax information but taking down the posts so it will no longer be shared as well as the account itself will depend on the social media platform.

He urged the public, particularly the netizens, to be responsible in using the social media particularly in posting and sharing posts which may add to the paranoia over the virus.

On February 2, a man identified as Marlon de Vera, who claimed to be a vlogger, was arrested in Legazpi City in Albay for pretending to be a carrier of the 2019-nCoV.

He will be charged with alarms and scandal, an offense punishable by one to 30 days in jail.

Local police reported that the security personnel of the Yashano Mall in Bitano brought De Vera to the authorities on the evening of February 2.

De Vera allegedly pretended to have collapsed in a prank recorded by his companion, causing shoppers to leave the establishment out of fear. (SunStar Philippines)