Experts push media literacy to ‘disarm’ social media
Efforts to “disarm” social media are already underway, but are still advancing at a slow pace according to communication experts and practitioners.
In an online forum hosted by the Philippines Communication Society and the University of the Philippines Internet TV Network, Agents International Public Relations President Alan German revealed how social media like Facebook has “Cleaned up the house” by introducing algorithms, which restricted the “inauthentic behavior” of its users.
A seasoned public relations practitioner, he compared the treatment of social media in the 2016 polls to a “zombie apocalypse” when used to spread misinformation against candidates.
“It’s so difficult to create a Facebook account right now. Facebook has watched its ranks, ”German said.
But he said the said reforms are “coming more slowly” than he would prefer.
Advertising Standards Council legal adviser Rejie Jularbal said educating social media users – a business that would likely take time – should complement reforms.
“Educating users on social media can be used to counter those who use it for negative purposes,” Jularbal said.
Earl Jaynus Guzman, faculty member at the College of Communication, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, agreed with Jularbal on the crucial role of media education in tackling “militarized” social media.
He noted that such topics on the use of communication technologies in public discourse were rarely taught in schools before.
“Now, we can see that even at the secondary level, there are subjects on media education. I think this is a positive step for us because we inform and educate the students. Yes, we have access to these tools. But we have to be careful, not just how we use these tools, ”Guzman said.
For its part, Filipino Daily Investigator columnist Manuel Luis “Manolo” Quezon III highlighted the role of the private sector and government in solving social media problems.
“There are two pressures that the providers or makers of social media applications have to respond to: public pressure and government pressure. Both the self-interest of politicians and that of the public fuel government pressure. It is the interaction that manages to drive the efforts to improve it and make it [social media] a safer, more positive experience, ”Quezon said.
The four keynote speakers stressed the importance of disarming social media, as it plays a crucial role in influencing public discourse, especially during elections.
Over the weekend, the Electoral Commission (Comelec) announced that it would publish its new guidelines for the use of social media in campaigns soon this month.
Among the said provisions of the guidelines is the regulation on how candidates send and reinforce their messages and, at the same time, the free dissemination of the campaign from Comelec’s own social media platform.