PH takes the global lead in time spent online, and on social media but is it used for good ?

First published on February 10, 2019 at Sunday Business and IT 

Filipinos are using the internet 10 hours a day. The global average is at two hours and 16 minutes. Brazil comes in second with nine hours and 29 minutes while Thailand is third at nine hours and eleven minutes.  Digital growth shows no sign of slowing down. We continue to embrace the internet and social media despite controversy around misinformation, disinformation, privacy, hacking, and other negative aspects of online life. 45% of the world’s population are now social media users. This growth fuels social media use. That’s 3.5 billion people. According to the 2019 Global Digital Report, conducted by Hootsuite and We Are Social, the Philippines ranks number one in spending the most time on social media at four hours and 12 minutes. The time spent on the internet was 10 hours and two minutes a day. This is an increase from last year’s nine hours and 29 minutes daily.

Philippines social media

The key stats in the Philippines are:

–        76 million Filipinos with a median age of 25 years old are active social media users which is 71% penetration. The same figure applies to internet users. This is a 13% increase from January 2018 to January 2019.

–  The number of   Internet users in the Philippines varies: Internet World Stats (67 million); International Telecommunication Union (59.56 million); World Bank (59.56 million); CIA World Factbook (56.96 million)

–        Advertising audience in Facebook is 75 million

–        Mobile social media users are at 72 million or 67% penetration. The global average is 42%.

–        90% of internet users are engaged with or contributed to social media

–        Fixed internet speed grew from 15.19 Mbps average to 19.03 Mbps. The global average is 54.33 Mbps.

–        Mobile speed increased from 13.45 Mbps to 15.05 Mbps. Global average is 25.08 Mbps.

–        Average number of social media accounts per internet user is 10.4. Top social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, Viber, Pinterest, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Reddit, WeChat, Tumblr, Twitch and Line.

–        Over 50% of the 76 million Filipino internet users, use mobile messengers, watch videos on mobile, play games on mobile, use mobile banking and map services.

–        E-commerce is gaining ground with 70% of internet users purchasing a product or service online whether laptop or through a mobile device.

Philippines social media


The GlobalWebIndex’s Social Media Flagship report provides more insights on the world of social media. They included the Philippines in the Third Quarter 2018 wave of research across 44 countries, which had a global sample size of 113,932. Even though Facebook is still the dominant social platform in terms of membership, the former falls behind YouTube in terms of visitors per week.

Staying up-to-date with current events and keeping in touch with friends are the most mentioned reason (40%) for using social media. It is no wonder that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) set new rules for social media posts and online ads during the campaign period for the May 13, 2019, national and local elections. Section 6 of Comelec Resolution 10488 says lawful election propaganda will now include “social media posts, whether original or reposted from some source, which may either be incidental to the poster’s advocacies of social issues or which may have, for its primary purpose, the endorsement of a candidate only”.   Paid influencers, supporters and even “trolls” must submit reports on payments for services like creating online posts whether for or against a candidate. Majority of the voting population is online getting campaign materials from websites and social media platforms. “It’s not about content itself. We don’t have concerns over what is in the post, but the cost of the material posted,” says Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

With the upsurge in social media users, netizens must be discerning.  Every social media user needs to identify their confirmation bias, so one is not easily manipulated by misinformation or disinformation.  Facebook removed 220 pages, 73 accounts, and 29 Instagram accounts because of “inauthentic behavior” in its platform.  In October 2018, Facebook removed 95 pages and 35 accounts. Many sleeper accounts with suspicious activity is increasing after the takedown of these accounts by Facebook. Content of sleeper accounts have “hugot”, religious, meme, quotations and social videos. Out of the blue, their timeline contains posts outside their usual niche such as propaganda memes or campaign materials. Some misinformation is also being distributed in closed or ephemeral spaces, like Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp groups, SnapChat, or Instagram Stories.

The best approach to verifying information is to conduct your own research, ask advice from trusted sources, and then make up your own mind. Review the tips found in my December 2, 2018 column on “Misinformation, a word of self-reflection”. If most Filipinos spend 10 hours daily on the internet, each one of us can take a few minutes doing our own research. Hopefully, more Filipinos will use research time out of the 4 hours and 12 minutes on social media. Let’s show the world that time spent online and on social media is not wasted in the misinformation ecosystem.

You can download the Global Web Index 2019 digital trends here and the Global Digital  2019 overview