SECTION 38. Non-posting of false or unverified statements, disinformation. – A lawyer shall not knowingly or maliciously post, share, upload or otherwise disseminate false or unverified statements, claims, or commit any other act of disinformation. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)
Fake news – refers to false information being passed off as news.
Disinformation – means “false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
Under this section, lawyers are prohibited from knowingly or maliciously posting, sharing, uploading or otherwise disseminating “false or unverified statements, claims, or commit any other act of disinformation.”
The rampant circulation and re-echoing of fake news and disinformation has caused and is still causing a lot of issues and problems in many facets of life, from personal, social, to political. Lawyers should avoid taking part therein or contributing thereto.
To be held liable under this section, lawyer should have knowingly or maliciously engaged in fake news or disinformation. Thus, there must have been an intent.
Otherwise, lawyers who share incorrect information, but had to intention to spread fake news or actively engage in disinformation, may not be held liable. Notwithstanding, while lawyers are not expected to always be correct in what they share, they should exercise a degree of diligence in verifying first the information that they are sharing to avoid in contributing to the problem.