OFFICIALS of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) urged Negrenses to exercise critical thinking to combat the spread of fake news.

Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael Banaag and Provincial Communication Officers Network Project Manager director Princess Duque, in a press conference at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City Wednesday, said the public have to be careful so they won’t fall victims to false information especially now that everything can easily be accessed in the internet.

Banaag said they always campaign for self-regulation.

“We ask everyone, even the students, to be responsible in sharing the news. If you doubt, don’t share it.”

She said they are going around schools all over the country to spread awareness.

Banaag said the government has no army of online trolls as they themselves, being at the frontline of the government’s communications group, are also targeted and bashed in the internet.

“In fact, we’re challenging the Senate committee on public’s better for us to ask the big social media platforms to regulate social media so not everyone can create fake account and lambaste or disgrace anybody. They should regulate how their system works,” she added.

Banaag said government agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation and the Cybercrime Office of the Philippine National Police have “no capabilities to look into fake accounts and take it down.”

“If Facebook and Twitter can come up with something to regulate social media, then it would be best,” she further said.

Information warfare

Duque said there’s “information warfare out there” which sometimes creates confusion among the public and the community.

She added there is a tendency that fake news will cause panic to the public.

“It also sometimes compromises security against terrorism and violent extremism. Sometimes, social media is being use to spread terrorist acts,” she said.

Duque said the PCOO is monitoring activities and flags down sites that share false information.

She pointed out there’s a good teamwork in inter-agency alliances like the police and the army which enables them to verify information immediately.

She added that they issue a statement right away to correct wrong reports.

Duque stressed it’s important to “have a critical thinking mind.”

“As an individual, you have to arm yourself with critical thinking. Research, research, research. Think before you share. Think before you click,” she said.

“Media is helpful in information. A person or blogger is also helpful in information. But it is up to us to decide what do you think is fair and true,” she said.

Also Wednesday, Banaag and Duque met with more than 50 government information officers in Negros Occidental at the Business Inn in Bacolod for the 10th leg of the Provincial Communication Officers Network (PCO Net) launch.