KEY POINTS

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies in congress have passed his anti-terror bill
  • Critics say the bill is unconstitutional and could restrict freedom of speech
  • Twitter users have flooded hashtags supporting the bill with K-pop and memes

#YesToTerrorBill and #SupportAntiTerrorBill were designed to support new anti-terrorism legislation in the Philippines that President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent.

Instead, the Twitter hashtags will show you a flood of memes and K-pop videos.

Twitter users in the Philippines have commandeered hashtags in support of the 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act, which proposes to strengthen counter terrorism measures but which critics say could erode “constitutional and other legal protections.”

Instead of support for the bill, the hastags #YesToTerrorBill and #SupportAntiTerrorBill now show a variety of Korean music icons, pop culture references and memes based on them.

Many of the messages attached to the tweets ask other users not to support the bill while promoting K-pop groups.

User @ikonfastfiction encouraged other Twitter users to play K-pop group iKon’s “Freedom” while also saying “don’t #SupportAntiTerrorBill.”

Co-opting the hashtags appears to have been inspired by fans in the United States co-opting #WhiteLivesMatter and flooding it with K-pop videos.

Fans also used memes and fan cams to drown out white supremacist messaging amid protests about police brutality and the death of people of color in police custody.

Human rights activists and lawyers in the Philippines have slammed the anti-terror bill as draconian and warned that its vague provisions could be used to harass Duterte’s critics.

Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno told Reuters that he thinks the bill violates the Philippine constitution.

“Given the broader definition of terrorism, the administration’s critics could be tagged as suspected terrorists,” Diokno said.

Opposition lawmakers and other critics fear that the bill could be used to suppress free speech and use a broad interpretation of the bill to silence Duterte’s detractors.

One Twitter user openly criticized the bill as “against the constitution” and an affront to “fundamental human rights and freedom of speech” while also showing a video of NCT’s Taeyong.

The new legislation breezed through the Philippine Senate in February. The Philippine House of Representatives passed the bill Wednesday (June 3). The bill now awaits Duterte’s signature to become law. Both houses of the Philippine Congress are controlled by Duterte’s allies.

Rep. Jericho Nograles, a lead sponsor of the bill, said that there are sufficient safeguards in the law to prevent abuse. He also said that “activism is not terrorism” under the law, echoing concerns by opponents online.