THE National Government is embarking on a media literacy program to combat misinformation and disinformation and to raise a society of “synthesizers,” or those “who are able to use the right information at the right time for the right purpose to make the right choices.”
On Monday, August 14, 2023, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the implementation of the Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Project of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Garafil said the program is a unified effort by the National Government and members of the digital media industry against misinformation and disinformation amid the era of new technologies, online news and social media, which have made access to information easy, hence the ability of false narratives and fake news to mislead, divide, and even cause harm or damage.
“We are not merely embarking on a mission; we are empowering a collective endeavor to exemplify the power of a whole-of-nation approach, and indeed, a whole-of-society commitment,” she said.
“Our responsibility, then, is clear -- to arm our citizens with the tools to discern truth from falsehood,” Garafil added.
Garafil said the program will start off by providing the youth, who are more exposed to the digital landscape and its risk, by visiting schools, the right tools to critically examine and validate the source of information and in order for them to know how to differentiate fake news from the real ones.
She said the MIL will be integrated into the higher education curriculum, community-based training, and family-oriented programs.
Garafil said they will also conduct dialogues with local leaders, civil servants, and ordinary citizens to enable the people to navigate the digital world with discernment and responsibility.
The PCO will also collaborate with social media companies such as Google (YouTube), Meta (Facebook, Instagram, and Threads), TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter) to further strengthen the program and extend its reach.
Google and Meta both vowed to continue to deepen its digital responsibility efforts, which include removing harmful and misleading content across its platforms and collaborating with various stakeholders across society to connect netizens to timely and accurate information.
In his speech during the event, Marcos urged the Filipinos to always fight for the truth and to not let be victims of disinformation and misinformation.
“And this is all that we are talking about and this is as much as we are talking about. What we are fighting for is the truth because what is -- the very first casualty of all of these -- sometimes sinister, sometimes just mistaken, misguided activities -- the first victim, the first casualty is the truth,” he said.
Marcos recognized the observation of Garafil on the need to direct the attention to the young people as they are the most involved in social media platforms.
“We also direct our attention to young people because they are the most involved. They are the ones who consider being online, working on the Internet as part of their life. It’s like breathing to young people,” said Marcos.
“But we must give them the tools to be able to look and see what are these things that we are reading. Totoo ba ito? Should we really be doing something about it? Should I worry or should I just not worry whenever – because this is what people are telling me?” he added.
Marcos recalled his experiences during the campaign period when he was riddled with fake news as he emphasized the importance of knowing the source of the information. (SunStar Philippines)