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Our Battle Against Fake News

As an educator, I always make it to a point to make my students see the realities of life. In fact, I always integrate current events to my lessons to make sure that my students are active in the societal discourse. This is the reason why I ever let them research information that could help in our discussion. About this, information has become a daily staple of the modern Filipino. This is what social networking sites offer to us. It gives us information to what is happening to our neighbors, their pets, their careers, and stuff that we do not bother to care. It has brought us closer as people.

The world has become smaller, they say. Communication has also become easier. The internet has removed our borders. We can easily contact our distant relative through FB messenger. We can always call our client through Skype. We can even instantly send a funny GIF to our friend who lives miles away from us. Information can easily be acquired. And that starts a problem.

I believe we are currently experiencing a paradox. Information has tremendously increased in just a few decades thanks to the internet. The information that we looked for in the library for days, even weeks or months if we are unlucky, can now be easily be accessed on the internet in just a few seconds. It can also even give us a lot of information about a particular subject in this span of time. It has made our life more comfortable, hasn't it?

Despite all this massive number of information that can be easily be accessed, our fact-checking capabilities need to be reassessed. We do not know how to differentiate substantial and accurate information to those who are not. We readily believe what we see on the internet, thinking that all of these are true, because, as funny as it sounds, it is from the internet, so it must be true. Sorry for slapping you to the reality, Brenda, but it is not.

As a mass communication graduate, it is not surprising that I know about triangulation of sources. It means that before we believe about something, we need to make sure that three subjects confirm it. In fact, it should also come from at least three perspectives. Let us say for example if a man was hit by a truck. Ideally, we should get information from at least three eyewitnesses. As a reporter, we should also get statements from the police, his immediate family, and the driver who hit him. It is just a news gathering technique.
The problem now arises when our internet users do not know about triangulation of sources. Sometimes, they have become victims of misinformation or wrong of false information but not intended to harm or deceive. What is worse is when they are bombarded with disinformation or wrong or misleading information designed to hurt or deceive. It is the cousin of fake news or disinformation in the form of a story. Digital natives and immigrants alike are still not well versed in distinguishing from real news to the fake ones. We have become more vulnerable. We have become targets of disinformation. And we need to start working before it is too late.

This is the reason why we should always be critical before digesting information. We should check and recheck the information that we receive. A simple Google search is not a tedious process. It is always better than looking dumb in the eyes of the judgmental Facebook audiences just because we shared that meme that Rowan Atkinson has died.

We should not just rely on the journalists. We should also be at the forefront of the battle against fake news. We have a moral obligation to fight these. No matter what our role in the society is, we should all stand and promote better information gathering efforts. Together, let's fight fake news.


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