Jimmy Gomez—an American Politician—once quoted “When fake news is repeated, it becomes difficult for the public to discern what’s real.” In an endless abyss bound with superficiality, how can we determine what’s accurate and fraudulent? In the realm of the internet and media, how can we ascertain the authenticity of one’s words and the genuineness of one’s surface sincerity?
In the reality of this societal world, knowledge is inherently considered power which is the key to the idealized humanity, yet is a double-edged sword with a rotting handle in regards to its wielder.
This article pinpoints the field of misinformation, a complication even professionals struggle to pin down. But first, what is misinformation? Misinformation is defined as the proliferating spread of falsity regardless of intention. It is both the bane and the mirth of today’s society and a weapon that determines advantage in a myriad of political situations. Some misinform accidentally which can be a side-effect of arbitrary bias, which is then considered as ‘disinformation’.
However, one of the most prominent subsets of misinformation is Fake News.
When did fake news begin and when did it prosper? Well, there is no notable timeline of the entire history of fake news, as it likely existed the moment humans discovered the act of dishonesty. Such as the case in 1755 when the Catholic Church provided an erroneous and distorted attempt at elucidating the Great Lisbon Earthquake which impelled Voltaire—a French Writer—to combat religious dominance. In essence, fake news was created to impede bias and belief but ever since the invention of modern-day newspapers back in the early 19th century, fake news increased in both circulation and popularity, especially in the contrivance of Social Media itself.
So, what does social media have to do with this? The internet is now currently the most substantial medium of misinformation as one cannot simply scroll down their newsfeed for a few hours and not stumble upon any ridiculous attempts at fabrication.
It is seen that out of eight or so billion people, 49.5% utilize social media. And in that 49.5%, 92.05 million people are Filipinos—our countrymen—with 51% of the nation’s population struggling with fake news itself. In fact, only 6% of the sample in the December 2021 Social Weather Stations Survey decidedly presumed that the issue of fake news is not worth the trouble at all.
However, which type of people cause these influxes of misinformation? The effect can never be without a cause. Fortunately, this is when the next subject materializes—the trolls.
And no, they aren’t the hideous and mythical creatures that are usually depicted in fantasy novels. In today’s language, trolls are widely considered as attention-seeking individuals who disinform using deliberately provocative messages to multiple highly-prejudiced groups in an effort to conceive responses that supply the perpetrators with both amusement and satisfaction. Trolls are known to publicize and broadcast what society reckons as nonsense that occurs by dint of ample evidence, and occasionally subjugate random faceless victims via the violation of one’s personal life. However, once these trolls are discovered, they typically exonerate themselves by employing irrational pretexts and inconsistent alibis. These cases are highly prevalent in social media, particularly on both Twitter and Facebook.
Other than trolls, there are multiple other factors that facilitate the alteration of one’s bias. One such constituent is Political Blogging.
What is Political Blogging? Political blogging is internet blogging dedicated to covering politics. When blogs—a classification of certain websites frequently updated and styled as informal messages—soared in popularity in the early 2000s, so did the number of users and thus, so did the types of blogs. Blog authors bred opinions. They garnered and attracted the scrutiny of various kinds and cultivated their beliefs beyond the norm. Political blogging didn’t necessarily escalate in fame until 2002 when multiple bloggers concentrated specifically on critics provided by the American Politician, Trent Lott. Nowadays, though, in a time when the internet had modernized our previously primitive nation, some citizens of the Philippines created political blogs conveyed through social media establishments such as Thinking Pinoy, Banat By, and so forth.
Even so, what are the subjects of these Filipino political blogs, specifically?
After scouring through multiple posts and videos, I observed a consistency. The blogs conventionally cover content concerning the current state of Politics—especially the expected improprieties and drama spanning over the 2022 Presidential Elections under the guise of two candidates: Vice President Leni Robredo and Former Senator ‘Bongbong’ Marcos.
As the debates raged on, eventually stumbling into the point in time where only two notable individuals have the highest probabilities of winning the highest government position in our land, there were several politicians that faced numerous repercussions and benefits. It wasn’t dissimilar to a rollercoaster of reputation status, since there were even revisions of their assumed psychological attributes. Overall, it was perceived in accordance with the blogs that Vice President Leni Robredo was the most victimized politician in the onslaught of what’s theorized to be the ‘frontrunner’s’ army of trolls.
So to prevent oneself from indulging in the belief of such fraudery, what can one do?
Firstly, much like the initial step in the scientific method, it is highly recommended to locate the problem at hand and to view the instructions regarding what we should and shouldn’t do. Hence, it is asked: What type of people are more inclined to surmise?
Irrepressible optimism, close-mindedness, sheer idiocy, and headstrong obstination. These are the traits of individuals who are likely to be victims of fake news at a simple glance. Personally, the best course of action would be to examine whether or not such information is possible through extensive research in accordance with pre-existing facts. Fortunately, this combat against misinformation is not a battle fought alone.
Social Media companies have already begun their steady campaigns to obstruct and hamper fraudery and deception. A noteworthy instance would be Facebook. Back in 2017, they professed sets of solutions to provide an incentive to obviate traffickers of misinformation. Adam Mosseri, the current head of Instagram and previous executive of Facebook, claimed that their team discovered that most falsity originates from economically-based news. To thwart this, Facebook declared an improved system of identifying false news and multiple modus operandi of shackling users who desire to promote untruthfulness. Twitter, on the other hand, much like Facebook, established a policy labeled: “Synthetic and manipulated media policy” that detects misleading details through a specific set of criteria with the aim of possibly fostering authenticity.
However, this is not all. Both companies and a few others are currently developing mechanisms to automate and ensure the prevention of fake news. With this in mind, awareness that falsity is not fought alone increases.
In conclusion, the tragedy of mendacity causes a distortion in one’s ideals. It twists and disfigures the common and typically interpreted definition of ‘truth’ and aids in causing an individual to refuse reality and produces redundancy alongside highly unnecessary details that may or may not cause an uproar. And finally, it is caused by humans. Do you want to be one of them? If not, then I applaud you.
Therefore, there is only one message left. “Join its prevention—join the life of improving our nation.” James Maninang
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