THE quake Wednesday night was strong, sudden and quick. But what traveled quicker was the fake news that a tsunami is hitting Davao City.
That story spread on Facebook and texts threw nearly a thousand of residents living along Davao’s coastal areas running out to the highway, jamming traffic.
There are many things that leave us scratching our heads and wonder what’s wrong here. And, who should be blamed? The source of disinformation or the public who has lost the ability to process what is true or fake.
Media friends point out our faulty habit of following Facebook pages that feed us unverified and sensationalized stories, often suited to our biases and interests, that we now ignore legit news pages and public office pages.
Remember that survey that shows Filipinos are the most ignorant but most confident on their views on issues? That’s what happened.
Did we check the pages of Phivolcs and the city disaster response group to verify the tsunami scare? I’m afraid our immediate response was fright and flight.
Sometimes you wonder if it’s our own skepticism on government response to disaster is often slow, so it’s better to save ourselves.
Sometimes you wonder if it’s our culture of trusting “radyo baktas” or word of mouth that shapes our views and responses.
But we have to note these beliefs are enforced by the propaganda of fake news/ disinformation, which brand journalists and news sites as biased that aims to destabilize the government.
But now this belief on fake news proponents are the ones who “destabilized” us from the right course of action and information during calamities.
And it’s not only calamities that become exploited for fake news. Remember the unverified stories of “Islamic” terrorists and NPAs are used to justify extending martial law.
The solution, as my friend points out, is not just to apprehend the fake news peddlers. We also had to cancel them from our socmed and in our system.
It’s time for a reboot.