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Use of Facebook letter in report questioned

09:33 PM August 16, 2012

I have just seen a news item under the byline of Jerome Aning. Titled “Uphold independence in chief justice choice, JBC told” (Inquirer, 8/11/12), the article quotes parts of a letter I sent to the Judicial and Bar Council on the matter of its constitutional independence.

I was never contacted by Aning, nor was my prior consent obtained by him, before parts of that letter were selectively cited in that article and attributed to me. The letter was shared with friends and colleagues, but I did not authorize its release to any media whatsoever. I purposely declined interviews or any requests for media releases of that letter, because the letter is precisely and deliberately worded in its entirety and I did not want any editing of its contents.

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May I therefore request the Inquirer to continue subscribing to the highest standards of journalistic ethics, and issue a public announcement or erratum that my letter to the JBC was published without my prior consent, knowledge, or consultation.  I trust that the Inquirer would accept this fair and reasonable request.

—DR. DIANE DESIERTO,

FEATURED STORIES
OPINION

assistant professor,

Peking University School of

Transnational Law

First of all, lawyer Desierto’s letter is a public document addressed to a government agency. I obtained on Aug. 10 a copy of Desierto’s letter, via Facebook, from legitimate news sources, including the spokesperson of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, staff of the Supreme Court public information office (which handles media relations for the JBC), and other lawyers, groups and individuals monitoring the nomination process for chief justice. Thus, as per Inquirer’s guidelines on the publication, reprinting and use of materials from the Internet and other digital facilities, the letter can be fairly used, storified and edited subject to space constraints.

Secondly, the letter was already circulating via the social networking sites for more than 24 hours. The Facebook statement of rights and responsibilities clearly states: “When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”

The lawyer’s letter did not include a disclaimer at the time of its Facebook posting at around 1:54 p.m. on Aug. 9, 2011, under the Public visibility setting; even if it did, this would have been negated by Facebook’s terms.

The good lawyer must have deleted or removed the “Public” visibility status of her post on Aug. 11. It was only at around 3 p.m. the same day when she posted on her status update her belated disclaimer regarding unauthorized use.

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—JEROME ANING,

reporter, Inquirer

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TAGS: dr. diane desierto, facebook, JBC, judicial and bar council, letters
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