Jim McMahon

One town in the Philippines is taking a stand against gossip. More than half a dozen neighborhoods in the town of Binalonan have now made it illegal to spread what Filipinos call chismis—rumors about things like finances and relationships. In the Philippines, many neighborhoods have their own governments, and those representatives are often called in to deal with drama between residents. Binalonan officials say this ban will free up their time to focus on more urgent community affairs. Residents have a good incentive not to violate the rule, as first-time offenders must complete three hours of community service and are fined 200 pesos (around $4); for repeat cases, fines can go up to 1,000 pesos ($19) and eight hours of service. Some people worry that the ban limits free speech, but Mayor Ramon Guico III says residents have mostly responded positively. “This ordinance is to remind people that everything that we say is our responsibility as individuals and as residents of this municipality,” he told The Guardian. “We want to show other towns that Binalonan has good people; it is a good and safe place to stay.”