April 17, 2018

Facebook Fake News in PH: Who Should Screen?



Thursday April 12, Facebook announced its partnership with Vera Files and Rappler as third-party fact checkers in the Philippines (source: Rappler). The announcement came, after reports of Facebook’s data breach by Cambridge Analytica; were estimated 87 million users’ personal data were collected (source: CNN); with estimated 1.2 Million of those data are Filipinos (source: Inquirer).

The Philippines government expressed agreement regarding Facebook’s initiative to strengthen its fact checking effort thru third party organization, but it disagree with Rappler and Vera Files being appointed as fact checkers in the Philippines. Roque (Presidential Spokes Person) pointed out that the two groups are accused of partisanship (bias opinion in favor of a particular cause) (source: Inquirer).

This topic is challenging because you don’t want other people to tell you that your stories are fake, just because they have the power to say that they are fake. Moreover, you don’t want a fake news in your timeline. The question here is a balance between freedom of speech (in words) and the truth. There is also a challenge between identifying a difference between opinion and fake stories. This problem is not new in those people who have been in the internet in the past 10 years, others just know how to tell what is fake and what is not. You must be intelligent in order screen the incorrect information.

Facebook should be careful on this, yes there are studies that shows that fake news can curve democracy; but, controlling the stories that promotes democracy and openness (which can be perceived as fake based on judgement) is a sign of autocracy.

I think the best way to prevent fake news from spreading is by educating the users about fake information. Fake information does not only exist in the Facebook, it exists in the whole internet, and in the real world. False information also exists in institutions you would not imagine telling lies – news organizations, books, journals, marketing ads, and many more. The only defense to false information is to have a questioning mind – and not to be ignorant.



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