Fake news items and articles have been all over the social media space recently.
It is rather unfortunate and disappointing that said 'fake news' are being maliciously or unmaliciously spread through various social media platforms, sowing deception and confusion among the general public.
In the absence of due diligence and discernment, many social media users have been made to believe these so called fake news. No less than the Philippine Secretary of Justice has been alleged/claimed to have used fake news as basis for various intelligence reports of his department.
The gravity of the impact created by fake news has prompted the Senate to contemplate and seriously consider penalizing persons or entities creating and circulating false news either through print, broadcast or social media. On 21 June 2017, Sen. Joel Villanueva filed Senate Bill 1492 or an “Act Penalizing the Malicious Distribution of False News and Other Related Violations.”
While technological advancement provides an abundance of benefits in terms of communications and reach, it has also allowed those who want to plant seeds of uncertainty and division to have a platform for their radical mindset and ideology. Fake news, in this day and age, has shaped public opinion, created frictions among individuals and groups, and even placed undeserving individuals into power. The impact of fake news cannot be underestimated or undermined, in the same way that propaganda has also been used to install people or groups into power in the Philippines.
With the recognition of the gravity and impact that fake news creates, families and schools play a crucial role as intervening bodies to instill due diligence, discernment and critical thinking. If the big media outfits do not provide the sufficient Information and Education Campaigns against fake news, efforts must start within our own homes and schools. For example, parents must provide guidance to their children as to what sites can be relied on for accurate news. Journalism classes at the tertiary level and social studies classes at the secondary level should aspire to have lessons on understanding and discerning reliability of news reports. We must build the right foundation, beginning with the basic units of our society, if we are to counteract the negative effects of fake news.
The consequences of believing and spreading fake news are slowly being felt by our countrymen/women. In our constant struggle to unify our already divided nation, we cannot allow lies and deceit to reign over our decisions, particularly those that involve the national interest.
The search for the truth did not end during EDSA 2 when people revolted against the non-opening of the second envelope of Jose Velarde. The search for the truth is an ongoing and painful process. Nevertheless, we must painstakingly exhaust all efforts to ensure that our decisions and actions are premised on the truth and not fake news. Otherwise, with apathy and passivity, the dawn of the age of fake news may be upon us.