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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cabaero: Raising conversation level on social media

WE have seen social media to raise our stress levels because of irresponsible comments, trolls and false information.

But, in the past week, we witnessed an improvement in the quality and impact of discourse on social media, in particular through exchanges on Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s Facebook posts where he approved and adopted citizen suggestions. There was also a rethinking of the controversial Mandaue City ban on face cover for motorcycle riders, again after criticism from the public on social media.

It started when Osmeña opened the Cebu City Library 24/7 on the suggestion of college student Mitch Roldan who decried the lack of study spaces on Osmeña’s social media account. The reaction to the mayor’s move to open the library led to more suggestions. One such suggestion was to make the track oval at the Cebu City Sports Center also 24/7, made by business process outsourcing employee Zion Kristoffer Isobal.

It didn’t stop there. Those decisions of Osmeña led to a deluge of suggestions from people here and abroad on how to make Cebu better, safer and more livable. Their suggestions included having a bike lane at the South Road Properties, impounding jeepneys that unload passengers outside of designated stops and causing traffic, strictly implementing anti-littering rules, and many more. Some were serious, some were not, like the one that asked the mayor to also impound running shoes of those who counterflow on the track oval.

There were still reactions to Osmeña’s quarrel with Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino and with now resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. Use of trolls continued by one or both parties and there were claims of bans imposed on certain comments.

What stood out, however, on social media were Osmeña’s actions to open the library and the track oval, and his decision to withdraw the plan to require reflectorized vests on motorcycle riders following an outcry also aired on social media.

There was also, in Mandaue City, the lowering of fines for violators of the face cover ban following citizen reactions. Mandaue City Mayor Gabriel Luis “Luigi” Quisumbing listened to the complaints and asked the City Council to revise the ordinance by reducing the P5,000 fine to P500 for first-time violators.

These developments provide a refreshing view of a platform known otherwise for trolls, those rude remarks, swear words and automated responses that irritate people, for false information, and for violating our privacy.

These recent events showed, thankfully, the uplifting of the quality of discussion on a social platform such as Facebook and the enthusiasm of citizens to put forward ideas because their leaders are listening. They also showed how good, old-fashioned service to the public could discourage trolling and bring out better engagement with the public.

It makes you want to see more of the citizen participation and of the use of social media in strengthening the community.
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