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Twitter launches #ThereIsHelp freedom of expression search prompt in PH

By NICK GARCIA Published May 27, 2022 2:50 pm

Twitter announced on May 27 that it has partnered with the Philippines in expanding its #ThereIsHelp campaign in Southeast Asia, which is aimed at helping those who need access to resources related to freedom of expression and digital rights.

The #ThereIsHelp freedom of expression search prompt, which debuted in Thailand in 2021, was also launched in Indonesia and Thailand.

"Isinusulong namin ngayon ang aming misyon ng paglilingkod sa pampublikong usapan sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalawak ng aming #ThereIsHelp Freedom of Expression Search Prompt," Twitter Philippines said, mentioning the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), and Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS).

In a blog post on May 27, Twitter said the prompt will make hotline numbers of the organizations available, as well as links to local partners for those in need of freedom of expression and digital rights resources.

"It’s now more important than ever for people—especially activists and journalists—to know their rights and that support is available," Twitter said.

In a statement, CHR Executive Director Jacqueline Ann De Guia said press freedom and disinformation are issues that are amplified online, and #ThereIsHelp will "address them and equip Filipinos with the knowledge on their basic human rights and access to resources that seek to protect them."

NUPL President Edre Olalia said the partnership would help them provide a safe space for at-risk voices, "especially with the rise of censorship and the weaponization of penal laws for issues such as cyber libel, disinformation on social networks and cyberattacks on media websites in the country."

IDEALS Program Manager Ansheline Bacudio also noted that in over 25,000 Filipinos they've given assistance, many of them experienced threats, harassment, and red-tagging "simply for expressing their opinions."

“When the law is weaponized to silence those who speak truth to power," Bacudio said, "it is important that safeguards are put in place to defend them."

"The pressures driving internet regulation in Southeast Asia highlight diverse challenges and implications, this is especially so for vulnerable groups," said Monrawee Ampolpittayanant, Head of Twitter's Public Policy and Philanthropy office in Southeast Asia. "Our collaboration with local partners will ensure timely and easy access to important information and essential resources for those who need it most."

Twitter's #ThereIsHelp has over 300 prompts around the world, tackling issues such as mental health, suicide prevention, vaccination, child sexual exploitation, COVID-19, gender-based violence, HIV, and disaster response.