Experts are promoting media literacy in order to “disarm” social media.
Efforts to “disarm” social media are already underway but are still slow, according to communications experts and practitioners.
In an online forum organized by the Philippines Communication Society and the University of the Philippines Internet TV Network, Alan German, the president of Agents International Public Relations, revealed how social media like Facebook are ruling the house through the introduction of algorithms have “cleaned up” the “inauthentic behavior” restricted by their users.
A seasoned PR practitioner, he compared the use of social media in the 2016 polls to a “zombie apocalypse” when it was used to spread disinformation against candidates.
“It’s so hard to create a Facebook account right now. Facebook has been monitoring its ranks, ”said German.
However, he said that the reforms in question are “starting more slowly” than he would prefer.
Advertising Standards Council legal advisor Rejie Jularbal said training social media users – an endeavor that would likely take time – should complement the reforms.
“User education through social media can be used to counter those who use it for negative purposes,” Jularbal said.
Earl Jaynus Guzman, Faculty Member of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, College of Communication, agreed with Jularbal on the critical role of media literacy in combating “weaponized” social media.
He found that such topics on the use of communication technology in public discourse have so far rarely been taught in schools.
“Now we can see that there are also media literacy subjects at the upper school level. I think this is a positive step for us because we inform and train the students. Yes, we have access to these tools. But we need to be careful, not just how we use these tools, ”said Guzman.
For his part, Manuel Luis “Manolo” Quezon III, a columnist for the Filipino Daily Inquirer, highlighted the role of the private sector and government in addressing social media issues.
“The providers or the makers of social media apps have to react to two constraints: public pressure and government pressure. Both the self-interest of politicians and the public increase pressure on the government. That is the teamwork that manages to drive the improvement efforts forward and make it happen [social media] a safer, more positive experience, ”said Quezon.
All four speakers highlighted the importance of disarming social media as it plays a crucial role in influencing public discourse, especially in elections.
At the weekend, the Election Commission (Comelec) announced that it would shortly publish its new guidelines for the use of social media in campaigns.
The aforementioned requirements of the guidelines include the regulation of sending and boosting postings from candidates and, at the same time, free campaign streaming via Comelec’s own social media platform.