Make use of your brain

(First of two parts)

By Mary Jea Heaven dela Rosa

Our boarding house’s wifi signal went off last weekend. We expected it to return the next day since we thought that it was due to a service upgrade from our internet provider, but we were mistaken. I have mobile data, but I was saving it. Because of an issue with our internet connection, I went to the office last Saturday merely to attend my Saturday class. I was frustrated for three days because I had to leave my room to connect to my landlady’s wifi to watch videos or talk with my friends online. I want to watch Netflix movies and call my family and friends on Facebook Messenger through wifi connection. When I am not connected online, I get this itch of agitation. I was upset and later informed a friend that I despised the internet provider for failing to address the aforementioned issue immediately. She then said that we are overly reliant on new and social media that we can no longer live without it. As I scrolled through my phone, I wondered, “can we see ourselves living in a world where we communicate without the use of social media?” The media has become an integral component of our daily lives. It’s almost as though we have become addicted to the comfort and convenience it provides. Regrettably, I believe the media has control of our reality, decisions, and relationships.

Meanwhile, as a communication and media graduate student, I learnt how vital the media is to everyone. Although the media serves as a “watchdog” for the state, we were exposed that not all media personnel follow media laws and ethics for the purpose of power and money, thereby becoming “lapdogs” of society.

Fake news is pervasive in my senior year in college, particularly online. Most individuals are increasingly using social media, and everything uploaded online is regarded as a source of knowledge. I recall our professor discussing a concept called “media gatekeeping.” According to the website, gatekeeping is the process of picking and then filtering media products that can be consumed within the time or space that an individual has available. As a result, gatekeeping becomes a function of data surveillance and monitoring. Every day, these gatekeeping decisions are made to sort out the relevant content that audiences will see. The primary purpose of media outlets is to offer and publish accurate information to the general public. Information, on the other hand, spreads like wildfire due to widespread online innovation. The absence of “social media gatekeepers” makes it easier for everyone to generate and distribute content.

The issue with online information is that it lacks actual and real-time screening and monitoring. For example, if someone posts information on Facebook and others share and comment on the post, Facebook cannot remove the post immediately because it lacks the algorithm to screen the post and all activity related to it. It’s as if Facebook lacks true and intimate knowledge of a certain community, resulting in fewer opportunities to monitor and check content posted online. Yes, they may have community rules, but they are too imprecise to stop the spread of unverified and untrustworthy material. People opt to believe the fallacy that everything posted online is true because of the speed and ease with which information can be shared online. In the traditional media, particularly in the newspaper industry, an editor-in-chief is in charge of double-checking the content before it is published. Though it takes time to fact check an article, its integrity is preserved due to its veracity.

Audiences have grown accustomed to the fast-paced and competitive climate of breaking news, and they frequently fail to recognize that what is published in the media is not necessarily credible and honest. This has the potential to trap consumers in a social media ecosystem, such as Facebook, which currently circulates clickbait stories. If the audience is not educated enough to distinguish between fact and fiction, they will only trust the messages they get in the public domain. As a result, gatekeepers are required to assist in dissecting the news, bringing out the truth in the news, and creating an honest public sphere capable of controlling professional standards (Tutheridge, 2017). Since the spread of fake news is widespread, gatekeepers should raise their standards in filtering content that is later reported to the public.

Because of the limited laws and regulations of social media platforms, it is impossible to manage the material that should be released in this environment where you can simply obtain information from social media. Anyone can post anything, and people will automatically share anything they think to be true since the material given is relevant to their preferences or interests. Without a proper system in place to check the material being broadcast, social media creates the impression that anything published online is authentic and credible.

Let’s take a look at what’s going on in the Philippines. TikTok, as it appears, has become a platform for fake news. It appears to be a concern because the target audiences for these platforms are either uninformed or capable of readily fabricating stories. One example is a fake news report about the son of a tyrant who is currently running for president. Videos on TikTok spread portraying the martial law period as the Philippines’ “golden age,” but in fact, martial law survivors allege that the family is rewriting history by ignoring billions of dollars lost to corruption, millions in debt, and thousands dead or missing. In this scenario, the general public dismisses the experiences of martial law victims solely on the basis of what they observed on TikTok. Worse, they are attempting to rewrite history, and many of this generation believe it.

Another example of fake news from a YouTube blog channel about a video uploaded on a blog post that Vice President Leni Robredo directed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to urge President Rodrigo Duterte’s resignation. According to the website, 16 Facebook groups and pages shared the blog post. A similar claim was made on at least three other blogs, including,, and

We are overly preoccupied with the benefits that social media provides, but we are being duped by it. I can’t understand how quickly the general populace believes what they see online and then spreads it without first validating and verifying the facts. Anyone who can write and disseminate information online can become a journalist. It’s truly sad that anyone can smear a person’s image and others believe them without considering the consequences of their actions.

(Mary Jea Heaven dela Rosa, 25, is a graduate student at the University of Santo Tomas studying for a Master of Arts in Marketing Communication. She works for a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines as a brand manager. She graduated from the University of the Philippines Visayas with a degree in communication and media studies, but she works in marketing as a profession due to her love for advertising and marketing.)