Fake News: A threat to our country's social fabric

Fake news has sowed further division among our people, and within our already fragmented society

Our country's present-day threats are not just the Mautes, criminals or drug lords. Fake news, generally considered as false stories published under the guise of being authentic news for public consumption, may be an equal or greater threat to the relative peace and stability of our nation. 

Fake news has caused a negative disruption in our current state of affairs. In fact, it has sowed further division among our people, and within our already fragmented society. It has become so pervasive that the Senate launched an investigation to determine the causes and solutions to stop its proliferation.

Social media has become the perfect environment in which fake news is being disseminated. Various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube continue to be bombarded with unverifiable content, thus causing widespread misinformation. Fake news has triggered online wars between bloggers and supporters from opposing sides of the political spectrum. Furthermore, it has led many individuals and groups to make decisions based on false assumptions and premises. 

Worse, some legitimate media entities have been tagged as "purveyors" of fake news. Long before the term "fake news" became popular, a number of prominent media companies have been labeled as "propaganda arms" of certain political groups. The credibility of media, in general, has been further tarnished with the incessant and malicious propagation of fake news by select media outfits.

Contrary to what is being proposed by some quarters, new legislation to curb the spread of fake news is not really necessary. Just last year, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law amendments to the Revised Penal Code (R.A No. 10951), which imposes stiffer sanctions on publishing fake news. To demonstrate our seriousness in the crack down against fake news, we should encourage the filing of cases against those who propagate fake news. 

More than legislation, however, the best weapon against fake news is an enlightened citizenry. We must work altogether towards promoting greater awareness and discernment amongst our people in judging whether a news item is substantially true or fake.  Given that we live in the age of information, educational institutions must cultivate their students’ ability to discern. One of the ways to combat fake news is to promote the culture of research, beginning in primary school. At home, parents or guardians have to take a more active role when it comes to monitoring their respective sons/daughters' online activities. Collectively, we must exercise due diligence in reading any news item regardless of its source. 

It took us three centuries to be awakened from Spanish colonialism. It took the country two decades to revolt against a perceived ‘dictatorship.’ It must not take us long to realize the prevailing threat of fake news to our social fabric.

It is our social fabric, the glue which holds our values and principles as a nation together, that is being severely threatened. There is no reason to dilly dally on the threat of fake news.  Borrowing the idea from a popular local advertisement… 

"We must not baby fake news. We must kill it."

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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