The time for truth is always now. In this age of disinformation and viral deception, we need more bloggers to share the truth. Fact checkers are needed but it is not enough. More than fact-checking, we need more truth tellers. Lies travel faster than the truth. When not speaking, you are contributing to the disinformation. By not speaking up, you are allowing the lie to spread.
Nothing is more relevant than using social media for good and maximizing personal and collective social media capital for social change. As social media was adopted by more and more people, and as access to the internet became more available and less expensive, the expected normal direction was towards using it for social good. However, we found that by 2012, the ugly side of blogging and social media began rearing its head.
As BlogWatch celebrates its 9th anniversary, we continue to write articles of national interest and those that educate the users of social media platforms on its judicious use while inculcating a culture of critical thinking and respect for truth and reason.
BlogWatch joined the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation, a network of journalists, academics, bloggers, and other independents, supported by the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle Philippines, and the University of the Philippines. One of the activities of the consortium is holding a conference series on “Democracy and Disinformation” in various schools in the Philippines. We joined the Angeles City, Pampanga leg last October 19-20, 2018 with Holy Angel University as the host and seven other schools in Pampanga participating as well (University of the Assumption, Holy Cross College, Our Lady of Fatima University, Pampanga State Agricultural University, Saint Mary’s Angels College of Pampanga, Systems Plus College Foundation, and SapangBato National High School).
Day Two of the conference was dedicated to workshops, with BlogWatch conducting a workshop on “Blogging (and Social Media) as Weapons of Truth and Disinformation” while Rappler held a separate workshop on Fact Checking. We shared eight tips to responsible blogging in order to be credible truth tellers: Create, Crowdsource , Curate , Call to action, Check, Correct, Collaborate and Courtesy.
Our weapons of truth?
Speak up or else the lies will drown the truth.
Strength in numbers.
Write the truth. Tag influencers, agencies.
Share across all social media.
Share several times (in case you missed it)
More than vigilance, we need ACTION. Students were encouraged to blog about the truth and to 1) tell it timely 2) tell everyone 3) tell till someone listens and 4) tell it all the time.
The Gen Z of Pampanga are ‘Woke’!
A huge takeaway from our workshop — the participants, mostly Gen Z students, are ‘woke’ (Gen Z-speak for aware, enlightened)! Even from Day One, it was obvious that they knew the issues. Their questions were deep and thought-provoking. The Day Two workshop was just as pleasantly surprising.
Seven groups of participants (aged 13 to 23) participated in the main exercise. The task — to pick a topic close to their hearts, a personal experience of disinformation, or a truth/advocacy that needed to be shared. They were also asked to design how to disseminate their message (blogging and social media platforms, tone of “voice” to use, call to action, hashtag/s, and so on) using the eight C-crets.
We were half expecting the younger set of students to focus on personal or school issues. To our pleasant surprise, most of the groups tackled relevant socio-economic issues. Check out their group presentations.
This group proposed a platform for victims of catcalling (all genders) which includes a blog entitled Listen to Silence, crowdsourcing various catcalling experiences from men and women, a combination of blog posts and a video campaign to create awareness and social media posts for calls to action.
Eduaksyon – Edupresyon (Action vs Pressure)
This group wanted to focus on making students more responsible about their studies and realize that hard work during school prepares them better for their future.
Education for All
This group was composed of a teacher and two students from SapangBato National High School, a school located far from Angeles City, close to the foot of the mountains. Education for all was a very relevant concern for them, considering their own personal experience of lack of facilities and lack of access to basic necessities for education. They listed down some of the reasons for this lack, such as cuts in the Department of Education’s budget, corruption, and personal financial constraints.
This group of senior high school students chose gender binary (the classification of sex and gender only into masculine and feminine) and its effect on mental health, recognizing that there is a need to foster gender sensitivity towards those associating themselves under any of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and others) classifications.
The plight of the Badjaos in their communities was this group’s focus. While so many of us are oblivious to the plight of indigenous people-turned-beggars, these did not go unnoticed by this group who told us about the Badjaos they noticed, during their commute, who turned to begging in the cities out of economic privation. They wanted to call attention to the need for free education, job opportunities and culture preservation of all indigenous tribes in the country.
Mental health awareness and reaching out to those needing help is the advocacy of this group. Their hashtag, #GiveHugsSaveLives said it all.
Victim blaming and objectification of women are some of the issues that this group of women wanted to highlight as ills of society.
There is no question about it. The participants in this Angeles City run of Democracy and Disinformation knew their issues and cared a lot about their community and the nation at large. They gave us hope that we would find many more like them in future runs of our conference series.
Conferences, such as this Democracy and Disinformation Conference, aim to empower all our participants. As we go from region to region running this conference, we hope that the participants realize that their voices matter, that they can influence many more, and that they have a critical role to play as truth tellers in a post-truth world that continues to deceive, misinform, and confuse.