Why This Company’s Cyber Libel Win is a Win Against Disinformation

Ayala Corporation previously filed cases against a Twitter user who accused the company of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA).

According to a Pulse Asia survey released last year, 9 out of 10 adult Filipinos see fake news or disinformation as a problem in the country. Moreover, 58% of respondents blamed social media influencers as the ones responsible for the spreading of fake news. 

The thing is, even the country’s biggest and most influential conglomerates are not exempt from being victims of disinformation—or simply, “false or erroneous information is being spread on purpose to hurt or damage, especially a government, organization, or public figure.” One recent example is Ayala Corporation, which recently won the cyber libel cases they filed against a Twitter user named Ronald Jason J. Ramos. 

In a statement released to Rappler, Ayala Corporation said that “In May 2022, Ayala Corporation’s Twitter account (@AyalaCorp_1834) was repeatedly tagged by @Boeing7779X—wherein the latter made tweets and retweets of defamatory imputations against Ayala Corporation.”

What’s more, some of the tweets made by Ramos accused Ayala Corporation of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA). 

Fake News Peddler Settles with Ayala Corporation

After hiring cyber intelligence experts and service providers, Ayala Corporation was able to track down Ramos. The company then filed eight counts of cyber libel for the violation of Republic Act 10175—also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act—as well as the Revised Penal Code.

Ramon was then arrested since a warrant was eventually issued by the Makati City Prosecutor. And since he wanted to avoid going to jail, Ramon reached an amicable settlement with Ayala Corporation. He was then required to issue a public apology, which was published in major newspapers, as well as online news outlets. 

In his apology, the Twitter user admitted to being the owner of the @Boeing7779X handle. He likewise admitted to making false statements and proliferating fake news and disinformation against Ayala Corporation. 

The Fight Against Disinformation

After winning its cyber libel cases, the Ayala Corporation urges everyone to fight against disinformation in the country. Thus, in an email sent to Rappler, Ayala Corporation said “In our own way, we want to do our part in addressing disinformation.”

“We will continue to monitor fake news and defamatory statements against Ayala and take necessary actions in accordance with the law,” it added. “We encourage everyone to hold people accountable for spreading lies and fake news, which mislead the public. This is our shared responsibility.” 

Ayala Corporation is just one of the many victims of disinformation today, and it can be said that many other companies have experienced something similar already. Given that social media can be terrifying, especially with the threats of hacking and malware, companies should still take a stand against those peddling fake news. 

As there is already an existing law that protects against cyber libel, companies should not hesitate to fight back against peddlers of fake news. Allowing them to go unpunished not only lets them continuously ruin a company’s reputation, it also lets them victimize more people.