THIS pandemic has affected each one of us more than our health is concerned. For some, the pandemic has taken their source of income, freedom to spend time with their family, and to see people face to face.
Many have decided that going online, going digital is the best way to connect with their audience. Be it in business, tourism, entertainment, education, and even communication – everyone has decided to go online. But every stroke of change and convenience comes a challenge. Recently, with everything going online, the emergence of fake news and unverified news has become more apparent.
There is so much power in the hands of people online that it made communication turn. If before, people trusted and got the latest information on a certain issue from TV, newspapers, and radio, now with access to social media, everyone can be a source of information. With proper verification and practice of ethics, there is no problem with this. That’s where citizen journalism stands. Citizen journalism is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as the act of “recording or writing about news stories when this is done by ordinary people rather than by trained reporters.”
The problem with social media and everyone’s access to it is the illusion that anyone can share whatever they want to share. Social media users also gauge their importance online through the number of engagements and reactions that they get from their posts. People believe that whoever posted something first is the hero, the bringer of the news. The value of verification and double-checking, which should have been in the minds of every decent journalist, is gone, putting priority to more engagements than posting verified and truthful content.
Just a few days ago, a new FM pass guideline circulated online specifically in Facebook groups of different barangays. The guidelines have yet to be confirmed by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as final and ready for implementation. In the same way, the copy has also yet to be posted on the official Facebook page of the City Government of Davao. Because of this, many Dabawenyos got confused about the validity of the document. Many reasoned that it must be true as it “looks legit” and it comes from the office of the Vice Mayor.
But what is legit? What does looking legit look like? Does a header of the vice mayor’s office make it legit? Because no one yet has confirmed its implementation, Dabawenyos were left in the dark to guess whether or not the document is valid. Others said it was a leaked document and would still need revision. Others reason it was cascaded already to the barangay level, so it must be legit. Maybe the city government can do stricter gatekeeping of their confidential information as there have been multiple instances of alleged leaked information. That says a lot about their internal communication. But that’s for another story.
Amid the confusion among the Dabawenyos, what made things worse are people who share these types of content without double-checking its validity. Truth be told, not sharing any updates is much better than regular sharing of fake and unverified contents.
No one is enjoying this pandemic and the quarantine. Many have it worse than us and maybe the least we can do is to not add to the confusion by sharing contents that could potentially cause panic to the people.