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Facing fake news

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A survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations has found that one in every two Filipinos find it difficult to spot false information of traditional and social media.

The December 2021 poll showed that 38 percent of the responders found it “somewhat difficult” to spot fake news, while another 13 percent said it was “very difficult.”

Thirty-seven percent of the respondents said it was “somewhat easy” to spot fake news, while another 11 percent said it was “very easy.”

Additionally, 20 percent of the respondents said they “often” spot fake news on traditional and social media. Some 40 percent said “sometimes”, 35 percent “seldom” and four percent said “never.”

Interestingly, the survey also found that a majority of respondents believe the problem of fake news is as serious in traditional media as in the internet, with 70 percent saying the spread of fake news on television, radio and newspapers is a serious problem. In comparison, 67 percent said the spread of fake news online is serious.

The perception that traditional media has a fake news problem is a serious one that media outfits and practitioners have to take seriously if the industry is to survive and continue performing its role as the fourth estate. While there are media entities that try their best to deliver news that is based on facts and coming from primary sources, there are those that unfortunately peddle fake news, often without any sense of accountability and fear of penalty. When it comes to media, more effort has to be made to differentiate facts from opinions that often border on fake news.

Aside from media cleaning up its ranks of purveyors of fake news, more effort has to be spent on educating the public on how to spot and avoid fake news. A population that is encouraged to be discerning and critical of the news they get on traditional and social media will only be possible under a government that values truth and facts over propaganda. The upcoming elections that give us an opportunity to choose what kind of leaders and government we will put in power will also determine if we can turn the tide in the war against fake news.*

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