By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Today when the battleground for information dissemination is in the cyber space, people must be digitally literate to be able to discern truth from lies, a top rank government information officer
Harold Clavite, director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) who spoke at the national confernce of the Literacy Coordinating Council yesterday, September 5 said that while statistics show a high score for basic and functional literacy among Filipinos, it is not the same for digital literacy. He said that in the age of digital media that is still evolving, the public must be equipped to be able to traverse and understand the cyber world.
Clavite said that digital media is a very good tool for information dissemination but is also a tool for misinformation and disinformation. He said that anybody can post anything on the internet including lies and deceptive information. “Misinforming the people might actually mislead them to make the wrong decision and responses to critical situation,” he said.
Clavite pointed out that cyber literacy is a need especially with proliferation of fakenews especially on social media today.
Clavite said part of educating the public is to teach people to fact check. He said that before sharing a story you must check the source, the date and other sources. “Read beyond the headline, read the whole article first because the headline is not whole story,” he said.
Clavite said that with the social media landscape today, digital media has become a tool to promote differences and divisions. “This is very clear, if you do not agree on a certain thing you are labeled as yellowtard or dutertard, as if your views on certain issues define your personality…that is very unfortunate and I think that has to really change,” he said.
He added that people should check their own biases because many only listen to opinions and views similar to them.
“Fake news spread not just through trolls or fake accounts, but takes advantage of the gullible,” he said.
Clavite said PIA has recently fallen victim to disinformation when some bloggers wrote that the agency was alloted P300 million budget for federalism information drive. “Its true we have a P300 million budget but it is for the salary of personnel and operations expenses, when federalism was added into the picture the information became wrong and deceiving,” he said.
Clavite said that individuals and personalities have also been targeted by fakenews perveyors.
“The sure fire way to combat fakenews is becoming a responsible sharer of information, it should be a personal resolve,” he said.
“Irresponsible social media users have been known to spread lies to forward their own agenda be it personal or political,” Clavite said.
Clavite said cyber literacy must be brought down to the grassroots. He said PIA has embarked on a program to train government information officers down to the barangay level. He added that the program also targets the youth, to educate them and turn them into advocates against misinformation and disinformation.
Clavite called on the public to become educated and responsible users of digital media. “Social media is a very good tool, let us use it properly for nation building,” he said. # nordis.net