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HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOCIAL MEDIA;

VIOLATIONS AND BOUNDARIES

Submitted By:
SALTO, DIANNE D.

Submitted to:
Atty. Ryan Jeremiah D. Quan

4 APRIL 2016

Introduction:
This paper examines about the human rights in social media and how violations occur
and its boundaries. As the growing population engages more in social media, most likely these
people are prone to promote more human rights violations for being an example all over the
social media. This paper will show how the social medias impact affects people in a way that
it is not entertaining anymore or in a sense that it is entertaining but there has been a consistent
human rights violations. The focus is to identify and be able to show how this modern society
through social media creates a new problem about human rights violations.
Over the years, social media has brought an impact in our daily lives and is becoming
an important part of our lives. It becomes the easiest means to communicate a person in
whatever way social media offers. While it is said to be the most efficient way for
communication, it also brings disadvantages that may overpowered the advantages of social
media. In the current statistics of internet users in the Philippines, there are about 44,478,8081
people who use internet nowadays. It is not surprising that we have reached such number
because of how innovative our world nowadays. People mostly spend their time using social
media or most probably by using internet. There are a lot of things that one can do in the internet
aside from entertainment. Today, people use internet for business such as for advertisement,
employment and also for government agencies inquiries.
Social media helps conversations to reach a wider audience leveraging the "long tail"
concept, which means conversations that can be conveyed to different forums. There are
several communication channels in an organization that include meetings, phone calls, and
emails. These communication channels have their own limitations such as forgetting a
message, missing to take notes during a meeting, and searching for information in a huge list
of emails which can be challenging. Use of social media web sites has increased the channels
of communication and its effectiveness in the organization. Now people need not waste their
time as it has become easy for a person to send messages through an instant messenger or a
tweet and get the response really quick. Social media has also improved collaboration between
team members in an organization, which has resulted in a better outcome. When a team is
encouraged to work as a team allowing them to share their workload, the outcome will be
tremendous compared to what an individual could have created. At such situations, the social

See Table 1.

media acts as a source to allow people to generate and share their ideas. Through
communication and collaboration, one can increase the overall effectiveness of a team. 2
With attributes that can affect the way people interact online, social media open up new
ways for collaboration and discussion. One of this persistence, meaning that a great deal of
content posted on social media sites may remain there permanently by default. Other
characteristics are replicability (content can be copied and shared instantly) and search ability
(content can be found easily using online search tools. The characteristics of accessibility is
also important: social media can be used anywhere, at any time, where an internet connection
is available.3 Largely, internet connection has reached the possibility of consuming it
everywhere with the help of technologists who develop it overtime.
The term social media refers to the wide range of internet-based and online services
that allow users to participate in online exchanges, contribute user-created content, or join
online communities. There are different kinds of social media that people use to engage in
interacting with other people, for entertainment or perhaps use for gathering information. These
are:

Blogs short for web log a blog is an online journal in which pages are usually
displayed in reverse chronological order. Blogs can be hosted for free on websites such
as WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger.

Wikis A wiki is a collective website where any participant is allowed to modify any
page or create a new page using Web Browser. One well-known example is Wikipedia,
a free online encyclopedia that makes use of wiki technology.

Social Bookmarking Social bookmarking sites allow users to organize and share
links to websites. Examples include reddit, StumbleUpon and Digg.

Social Networking Sites these has been defined as web-based services that allow
individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2)
articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and
traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The most
popular Social Networking Site in the Philippines is Facebook.

The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 2011, Vol. 16, No.3 The History of Social
Media and its Impact on Business (PDF File), downloaded from
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.458.6848&rep=rep1&type=pdf, accessed April 3,
2016.
3
Social Media: An Introduction (PDF File), downloaded from Library of Parliament Website,
http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/researchpublications/2010-05-e.pdf, accessed April 3, 2016.

Status-update services also known as microblogging services, status-update services


such as Twitter allow people to share short updates about people or events and to see
updates created by others.

Virtual word content these sites offer game-virtual environments in which users
interact. One example is the imaginary world constructed in Second Life, which users
create avatars (a virtual representation of the user) that interact with others.

Media-sharing sites These sites allow users to post videos or photographs. Popular
example include YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.4
With these kinds of social media, people enable to utilize it according to their personal

needs. For example, students engage more often in social media for education purposes.
They gather information on these social media sites that will help them for research. One
good advantages that social media bring is that it makes all things possible for a student. In
school, because of the high technology rising they are also using social media to promote
efficient and convenient way of teaching. They can organized a quiz via social media and
generate the results right after. A lot of advantages can be tackled regarding the use of
social media today but because of the availability of this, it comes also with disadvantages
as well as the problem.
Human rights are known universally because of constant violations occurring around
the world. Specifically, in Philippines, there are continuous violations in human rights and
yet our government is silent for resolving this issue. Discrimination is still rampant in our
society and equality are seen unclear. By this modern society which uses social media as
part of their daily lives, it accompanies also problems that should be dealt by the authorities.
We have different laws and yet its application is really hard to enforce.

The Problem:
The introduction tackles about the general knowledge about social media that every
person may or may not know. As the growing population becomes dependent on social media,
one may use this means to promote more violations over the person.

Social Media: An Introduction (PDF File), downloaded from Library of Parliament Website,
http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/researchpublications/2010-05-e.pdf, accessed April 3, 2016.

There is now near-universal consensus that all individuals are entitled to certain
basic rights under any circumstances. These include certain civil liberties and political rights,
the most fundamental of which is the right to life and physical safety. Human rights are the
articulation of the need for justice, tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity in all of our
activity. Speaking of rights allows us to express the idea that all individuals are part of the
scope of morality and justice. To protect human rights is to ensure that people receive some
degree of decent, humane treatment. To violate the most basic human rights, on the other hand,
is to deny individuals their fundamental moral entitlements. It is, in a sense, to treat them as if
they are less than human and undeserving of respect and dignity. Examples are acts typically
deemed "crimes against humanity," including genocide, torture, slavery, rape, enforced
sterilization or medical experimentation, and deliberate starvation. Because these policies are
sometimes implemented by governments, limiting the unrestrained power of the state is an
important part of international law. Underlying laws that prohibit the various "crimes against
humanity" is the principle of non-discrimination and the notion that certain basic rights apply
universally.5
The problem now is that this human rights violations can also be present in social media
because of the emerging modern societies which involve a more technical, innovative and
changing world. Clearly, apart from entertainment, there are evidence which shows how social
media works in a manner as to violate the rights of a person. In the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (UDHR) it recognizes the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members
of human family and includes freedom, justice and peace in the world. This declaration also
states that human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear. But
with the constant changes in the society as technologies are being welcomed, the problem arises
out of the irresponsibility of social media users.
As being the most popular social networking site, Facebook is one good example how
human rights violations can be generated in just a snap of a hand. A person can update his
status and post it whenever he wants. One may also share, comment and like the status of
another person. This gives Facebook the right to own information about a person subscribing
and agreeing under the terms of this social networking site. By this, some people may acquire
your information and use it to do crimes such as fraud. Some collected Facebook posts were

Beyond Interactability, Human Rights, http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/human-rights-violations,


accessed April 2016.
5

screen captured to use as example to find out the extent of human rights violations by using
social media or how it creates such violations in just a snap.

This video circulating in Facebook was posted by a certain guy on Facebook. It was
posted last Friday and it already reached to 231,000 thousand views with 2,300 shares as of
today. The video was showing how this boy can touch a girls hand to make him look like a
cool boy. The term netizens used is Hokage which means that one can do things in a snap
without being caught or without being questioned. But in the video, it turned out that the girl
did not like what the boy acted when she was in the escalator going down. She run after the
boy because she felt harassed by holding her hand intentionally by this unknown guy to him.
The caption of the video tells that even though the girl did not like what he did, he already
spoke to the girl and ask for forgiveness. Yet, this video was still posted and people made
comments on how the girl acted towards the guy. This is one of the problem that can highlight
the use of social media especially in social networking sites such as Facebook. The privacy of
the girl as a person were violated because of this video circulating and her being bullied all
over the comments section. It even went to the point of criticizing her for over reacting as if
her virginity was stolen. It can cause trauma because of her being a subject in Facebook. As
the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) stated in Article 12, No one shall be
subject to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor attacks

upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such
interference or attacks. According to Psychology Dictionary, an Arbitrary Interference refers
to an error whereby a person does not provide evidence that relates to the conclusion they
draw.6 This Article of UDHR talks about the right to life and liberty of a person in terms of
interferences and attacks. This is a good example to show the reality in social media. Every
now and then this right is being violated and our laws and government are silent on how to
eliminate this problem or minimize the occurrence of this situation.
Universal Declaration on Human Rights also states about the right of every person
against discrimination. Article 7 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights simply states
that, All are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination
in violation of this declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. This is
possible of being violated through social media. Discrimination means to distinguish, single
out or make a distinction. In the context of Civil Rights Law, unlawful discrimination refers to
unfair or unequal treatment of an individual or group based on a certain characteristics such as
age, ethnicity, gender, marital status, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, and
disability.7 The reality is that, because of the freedom of a person to use social media, it then
leads to a situation where the information of a person is being shared and leaked to different
persons. Others may upload photos or videos that may discriminate a person just because of
his/her characteristics.

Psychology Dictionary, http://psychologydictionary.org/arbitrary-inference/, accessed April 2016.


FindLaw, What is Discrimination, http://civilrights.findlaw.com/civil-rights-overview/what-isdiscrimination.html, accessed April 2016.
7

This video is one of the many trending videos on Facebook to bring entertainment to
people who subscribed to it. The video gathered 2,588 shares and almost 201,000 views. The
power of social media to link videos and photos are instant. Negative comments were seen
because of how this person pose for an expected photoshoot but because of the strong waves
of the sea, she was pushed to the other side leaving her pose as well. This video was criticized
by netizens because of the person in this video. Some people say that she looks like a gay and
that it was just right for her to be pushed through by the waves. Simple, discrimination can also
be found through this means. It can also start up or give rise to a more complex problem in
terms of human rights violations. We cannot eliminate discrimination. In fact, it is still rampant
in other country and worst people are being criticized based on their religion, nationality origin
or race. Best example is the color discrimination still present in the United States wherein some
people call white americans and black americans which is basically a discrimination based
on the race or national origin of some of americans living in the United States. Yes, this is still
happening and it will still be because of how social media works. One may find other people
in a place where he or she is being subject to any forms discrimination by using social media.
There are a lot of posts, photos or videos on Facebook which are circulating not just on the
latter but also in different social networking sites such as Twitter.
Our laws are still silent with this problem which is getting serious day by day.
Implementation Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 10175 known as Cybercrime
Prevention Act of 2012 define cyber which refers to a computer or computer network, the
electronic medium in which online communication takes place. According to Newsbytes
Philippines, The Cybercrime Law was signed into law by Pres. Aquino on September 2012.
Its contentious provisions, particularly on online libel, triggered massive public reaction. A
total of 16 petitions were filed against it at the Supreme Court. However, the High Tribunal
eventually ruled that the law was constitutional save for a few provisions. After extensive
series of consultations with key stakeholders and the legal groundwork, the IRR of our
cybercrime law is now ready for endorsement to our partners as stated in the law the
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Science and
Technology (DOST), said DOJ secretary Leila M. De Lima.8 While there are pending cases
which involve violations under the Cybercrime Law, there is still no assurance that people who
were aggravated under the Cybercrime Law can achieved justice to the courts. The Department
Newsbytes Philippines, DOJ finally completes implementing rules for Cybercrime Law,
http://newsbytes.ph/2015/06/16/doj-finally-completes-implementing-rules-for-cybercrime-law/, accessed April
2016.
8

of Justice Shows how Cybercrime may take into place when there is an alleged crime done
which is a violation under the Cybercrime law.

(Department of Justice 2014-2014 Annual Cybercrime Report)


Cybercrime Law addresses the issues on social media regarding the crimes being done
with the use of computer or computer network because of the increasing problem in the online
world which most people dealt every day. The Department of Justice release an annual report
on Cybercrime for 2014-2016. Statistics shows that the highest percentage of crime in social
media is for internet fraud or scam which is at 22%, followed by Libel in the internet at 16%
third violation under Republic Act No. 9995 or Anti-Voyeurism Act of 2009 which is at 11%,
and lastly, harassment or threat which is at 10%.9

Department of Justice, 2014-2015 Annual Cybercrime Report, PDF E-book,


https://www.doj.gov.ph/files/cybercrime_office/2014-2015_Annual_Cybercrime_Report.pdf accessed April
2016.

(Department of Justice 2014-2014 Annual Cybercrime Report)

Crimes against Children


The online platforms of social engagement brings a number of benefits to children but
it can also be a source of threat to their safety and protection. Children use it as a tool for
education thus making them prone to online predators usually disguised as virtual friends or
virtual mentors. Globally, sexual abuse and exploitation on children online is alarming, and
in response to this, fifty four (54) countries around the world have gathered in a Global Alliance
against Child Sexual Abuse Online and which is launched on 5 December 2012.10
On the advent of accessibility and affordability of internet connection, communications
have shifted peoples medium of interactions. These interactions using electronic gadgets have
spawned legal controversies as to the use of the electronic writings and admissibility in courts.
With the ever growing demand to regulate transactions in the internet, legislators enacted
Republic Act No. 8792, otherwise known as the E-Commerce Law. This law was
subsequently followed by the issuance of the Supreme Court of A.M. No. 01-7-01-SC
otherwise known as The Rules on Electronic Evidence.11

10
11

Ibid.
Ibid.

The admissibility of electronic evidence becomes a major issue of the citizens due to
its unreliability and doubtful authenticity having internet technology involvement. Taking
advantage of the complex technology offered nowadays, electronic documents by all means
could be changed and altered and used as evidence to prove allegations to the point of making
false accusations and unjust judgment. Citizens, law enforcement officers and judiciarys
inability to understand the divergence in technology will hamper the applicability and
practicability of the Rules. Electronic documents without electronic signatures and proper
authentication will have no credit on court cases. With such issues and the continuing struggles
of some people deprived of justice, electronic evidence could also be an avenue to enhance the
divisions between the rich and the poor.12
This is another problem with regard to the admissibility of electronic evidence when a
case prosper and one of the evidence can be found in social media. The authenticity of
electronic documents can be questioned because of the high technology that can be used to edit
online evidence. Some may use photoshop to make it appear that a certain crime happened. For
example, to make one person liable for libel, he or she can alter online evidence (e.g. facebook)
and make it appear that that person committed the crime of Libel. By this, social media can
also be a means to deprive some people of justice which in the very first place they are craving
for it. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights supports the Cybercrime Law in a way that
although the framers of the UDHR were not able to anticipate that social media may become
one of the means to violate the rights of the people, still it does not exclude this problem and
even states are promoting to resolved human rights violations in social media.

Summary:
Human rights exist, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the entire
body of international human rights law. They are recognizedat least in principleby most nations
and form the heart of many national constitutions. Yet the actual situation in the world is far distant
from the ideals envisioned in the Declaration. To some, the full realization of human rights is a remote
and unattainable goal. Even international human rights laws are difficult to enforce and pursuing a
complaint can take years and a great deal of money. These international laws serve as a restraining
function but are insufficient to provide adequate human rights protection, as evidenced by the stark
reality of abuses perpetrated daily. Discrimination is rampant throughout the world. Thousands are in

12

Ibid.

prison for speaking their minds. Torture and politically motivated imprisonment, often without

trial, are commonplace, condoned and practicedeven in some democratic countries.13


The use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter is transforming political
activism. In the uprisings spreading across the Middle East and North Africa, the use of social
media is spawning more diffuse and dynamic political movements. The possibilities are
enormously exciting, but authoritarian governments are already catching on. In this moment of
celebration, it is worth thinking about the dangers ahead.14
In the traditional model, revolution is guided by a handful of charismatic leaders - the
classic vanguard - aided by a small group of disciples. That model is highly vulnerable. A
repressive government can often stop political change by arresting the leaders and harassing
supporters, as some governments did to limit the "color revolutions" of the last decade.15
Social media makes possible a seemingly leaderless revolution, which cannot be so
easily decapitated. In Egypt and Tunisia, for example, the revolutions did have people in
leadership roles, studying other revolutionary movements and preparing strategies. But they
could lead quietly, behind the scenes. Their lack of visibility allowed them time and room to
maneuver without attracting government attention. Meanwhile, the movement built virally,
with friends passing messages to friends, eclipsing any particular leader.16
Facebook allowed political supporters to stand up and be counted virtually, without
initially having to stand up physically and risk violent reprisal. Facebook could be monitored Libya and Syria arrested some users - but as the number of virtual supporters grew, people
became emboldened to use Facebook more freely, apparently figuring that the government
couldn't monitor everyone. That drew in new constituents, many of whom showed up when
demonstrations took place.17
Social media allowed protesters to respond quickly when security forces attacked,
warning others on Twitter with hand-held devices. They posted videos and photos of abuse on
YouTube and Flickr. Al-Jazeera, in turn, beamed those images across the region - with

13

United for Human Rights, Human Rights Violations, http://www.humanrights.com/what-are-humanrights/violations-of-human-rights/democracy.html, accessed April 2016.
14
Human Rights Watch, New Laws Needed to Protect Social Media,
https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/04/15/new-laws-needed-protect-social-media, accessed April 2016
15
Ibid.
16
Ibid.
17
Ibid.

enormous effect - even when its reporters were barred from a country. These communications
generated outrage - and support for the demonstrators. Some people rushed to the scene. Others
applied pressure from abroad. Tunisians advised Egyptians through Facebook on how to
protect themselves from tear gas. Text messages and email also allow such communication,
but social media make mass interaction easy, quickly engaging many who have no
acquaintance with each other.18
But social media, like other technology, is double-edged, usable for repression or
freedom. Unlike private conversations, social media leaves a virtual paper trail for governments
to monitor and exploit. Facebook is especially dangerous because it doesn't allow pseudonyms
even in repressive countries. That paper trail might be what prompted Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad to authorize the use of Facebook and YouTube just as the revolutions in Egypt and
Tunisia were succeeding. But the growing protests in Syria suggest that Assad might have
miscalculated. His secret police had long managed to arrest the leaders of Syria's small and
embattled civil society. But social media followers can proliferate more quickly than secret
police can multiply. Social media also helps activists circumvent government efforts to cover
up repression.
Egypt and Libya were so exasperated by social media that they shut down internet and
mobile phone communication. But that strategy is fraught, since it impedes commerce,
inconveniences ordinary people and even undermines communication among security forces.
The Chinese government, with its massive resources, has so far managed to keep social media
in check. Invoking Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution, activists cautiously announced "Jasmine
rallies" in China, summoning supporters to stroll by crowded shopping areas on Sunday
afternoons so the police would have a hard time distinguishing them. But the authorities
flooded the areas with police, so few demonstrators risked taking part. Whether that is a
successful long-term strategy remains to be seen.19
Some governments order social media companies to reveal the identities of anonymous
users or to block discussion of certain topics. Working with Human Rights Watch and other
nongovernmental organizations, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have developed the Global
Network Initiative, an industry-monitored voluntary code of conduct that makes it easier for

18
19

Ibid.
Ibid.

companies to resist these demands and for users to have confidence that companies are
protecting their rights. Facebook and Twitter are not yet members. They should be.20
Sympathetic governments also have a role. Businesses reflexively oppose regulation,
but social media companies could better resist repressive demands if acquiescence were
prohibited by law. These governments should also fund a broad range of technologies and
initiatives for circumventing censorship. Governments might also look for creative ways to
fight censorship, such as including internet freedom in trade agreements, much as labor rights
are now. The use of social media has opened the door to dramatic new political possibilities.
For the moment, the forces of freedom have the upper hand. But vigilance is essential before
the inevitable reaction. As we savor recent advances, we should also prepare our defense.21

Recommendation:

Despite the disadvantages in using social media, the advantages of it can also be used
to stop human rights violations throughout the world. With the help of different states to end
the problem of Human Rights violations, it is not impossible to achieve more responsible
people in using social media as to not violate the rights of the others. It can be a means to
promote advocacies of human rights.
Social media is also a tool for social change outside the electoral system. Hashtag
campaigns like #rescueph, #reliefph have raised money for typhoon relief. A crowdsourced
magna carta for internet freedom has been central to a movement for online rights. And
recently, a million person march organized online took on the pork barrel system in Congress.22
By this, more and more people are being exposed to online promotion of human rights and this
is one of the good effects of social media, it brings people closer to achieve one goal and that
is to promote Human Rights. It also encourages people to speak up and voice out their needs
against our government for being oppressive. As discussed above, because of the high
20
21
22

Ibid.
Ibid.

technology rising nowadays, people tend to engage in social media often and even forget their
responsibilities as a user. That is when social media becomes violative in the rights of a person.
Discrimination will be lessen if people would think of taking into account their privacy
and to not share information within the public. People can use social media without giving out
information to the public. A person may limit the audience of who will be able to receive his
or her information online. Being a responsible social media user is a big task nowadays because
people tend to be blinded by what they are seeing without reading between the lines or
researching the true story behind it.
Laws should also protect people from social media crimes arising today. It is not enough
that we have laws. What we need is to implement all those laws to hear and try cases to promote
justice among people. Aggravated people should be protected by the law regarding the
violation his or her rights as a human and in connecting to social media. The duty of the state
is to protect its citizens and accord every rights that a person should enjoy. Our laws in the
country should first be enjoyed by people so that it will avoid conflict in international law when
an act is being a violation under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We cannot afford
to be known as a country who cannot protect its own citizens. That is why we have laws, and
laws should be implemented and acted upon. By giving all the rights of a person comes with a
great responsibility as a citizen in helping the nation towards a more progressive country. In
terms of social media, the responsibility of every citizen is to use social media as to not promote
crimes and eliminate any forms of human rights violations.

Table:

(From: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users-by-country/)

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5102 words excluding footnotes, bibliography and cover page.