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PH, EU discussed perspectives on fighting disinformation

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Despite the havoc brought by COVID19, many still resort to misinformation. The Philippines being one of the highest social media usage rates in the world becomes vulnerable and has a high incidence of fake news. To date, the country is still struggling with how to manage the prevalence of fake news that circulate in social media.

In the webinar held yesterday, May 13, spearheaded by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines and the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines, the distinguished speakers discussed with the Philippine-based journalists some tips on how to stop this fake news and at the same time spot fake news.

Speaking from Brussels was Lutz Gullner, the Head of Strategic Communications of the European External Action Service presented the EU action plan against disinformation. He pointed out the need to improve the capabilities of Union institutions to detect, analyze, and expose misinformation as this would thwart any further spread of the fake news.

Furthermore, Gullner underscored the importance of working with other sectors to improve awareness in handling the disinformation. While he also said that it is hard to establish the motive of the fake news mongers, others may be resorting to disinformation such as paid trolls to use for political or financial gain.

He also mentioned that there are also cases wherein disinformation is carried out by the state or state-sponsored actors.

“There is really a need to be discerning on what to share and journalists have the duty to make sure that information is validated and not to share when in doubt,” the EEAS Head of Strategic Communications added.
“This is the difference between journalists with other sources of information out there in the cyberworld. Journalists should make proper research, validate the information from the source, and then publish the finding,” Gullner added.

Apart from that, Gullber warned not to share anything in social media whether out of excitement or other reason, as this would affect one’s credibility.

Meanwhile, human rights advocate Atty. Chel Diokno shared the challenges in dealing the fake news in the Philippines as well as attending to the summons of those who need legal assistance as the Enhanced Community Quarantine is in place. However, he also told that the Supreme Court is already addressing this concern of many lawyers who need to attend to their clients hearing or summon. He also suggested that many of the cases now must be heard after the ECQ as the movement of the people is restricted due to social distancing and lockdown.

Think before you share

Many people use “Caring is sharing” in order to entice others to share a post. But Gullner said that sharing without validating and thinking its veracity is dangerous.

“There are many social media users, whether Facebook and other social media platforms. Most of the cases of spreading fake news like wildfire are because of others’ excitement and oftentimes tempted to share invalidated information they see.”

“You journalists have the responsibility to check the source. Who is the source? Is it reliable?,” Gullner said. He also noted that the people should be responsible as time is very precious now in the midst of COVID19 pandemic and fake news or disinformation has no place in a time of crisis.

“Disinformation has potentially harmful consequences for public security and health in the midst of COVOD19. Therefore, is important to distinguish the very different forms of mis- and disinformation, as well as other forms of information manipulation,” Gullner concluded.

Not all, but some of this activity is linked to intentional and coordinated activities, often carried out by state or state-sponsored actors.


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