DAVAO

Velez: Matrix decoded/weapon of choice

Tyrone Velez

Tybox

WHEN President Rodrigo Duterte ranted about taking down Facebook for taking down his "advocacy" accounts, I can't help but imagine this was like the Matrix in a twisted sort of way.

It depends on how you see it. The DDS will like to believe the president is like Neo who could acrobat his way and dodge political bullets and throw them back at critics. They would like to believe he has come face to face with the Architect of Facebook, warning him he needs to be shut down.

But, reality is, Duterte's "advocacy" groups are more like the multiple Agent Smiths that crop up or creep up and smother you with fake news, fake posts of achievements by copy-pasting infrastructure from other countries, gossip and vilification of the opposition, activists and journalists.

It is this kind of accounts that has forced the Architect, or rather Facebook, to do a system check to wipe out glitches, these fake accounts that spread disinformation and unhealthy ideas. It's not just happening here in the Philippines, but it's happening across the world with Facebook taking down disinformation especially on the coronavirus.

Let's see it this way, it's a battle between facts and fake. Truth-telling and "advocacy" as the president calls its own propaganda machine.

Which brings us to the question, what is the government advocating anyway in these past seven months?

The fact that the government can't get the data on Covid-19 cases right or on time, that officials are violating its own protocols, or that Congress is now a house of political powerplay, shows that this is not the fault of the opposition, the activists, the media, or Facebook. We can see and think that this house is on fire.

But he still thinks Facebook should be his own weapon. Facebook, with the help of his social media team, helped him win the elections in 2016. He thinks he can still toy with this tool to construct control.

But Facebook as a matrix can find better constructs. Right now there are two mayors in Metro Manila who are attracting the social media public with their show of delivering social and health services for their constituents in the time of the pandemic, one of them is even doing it in real time. We can say that's for show, but that's better than just sitting down late at night to hear a one-hour rant over things not related to the pandemic.

Right now, there are emergent strands of people, journalists, filmmakers, doctors, political groups who are fighting disinformation, claiming their space on Facebook with truth-telling to help us survive this pandemic and this regime.

For that, I still believe people can be like Neo, take the pill, pull out from the construct and the armies of disinformation, and fight for a better reality. There's a lot of codes to be cracked and deconstructed.


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