By Alex P. Vidal
“At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation and prejudice.”—Gore Vidal
THERE is a need for all of us to continue the fight against misinformation and disinformation.
Everyone should be involved, especially those with easy access to the Internet and other communication technology.
They could be used as weapons of war. In fact, they are now being utilized to wreck diplomatic relationships, the economy, political alliances, in the climate change debate, the pandemic, and even family relationships.
When our leaders—those in power—make a mistake of sending false stories or half truths in their social media platforms, the damage will be catastrophic.
The people believe what their leaders are saying or Twitting; they swallow hook, line, and sinker what they read in the social media posts of their leaders.
Thus there is a need for the public to be vigilant and to act as sentinels in order to cushion the impact if not totally stop the spread of misinformation and disinformation.
Not only is misinformation incorrect or misleading information. It is differentiated from disinformation, which is deliberately deceptive. Rumors are information not attributed to any particular source, and so are unreliable and often unverified, but can turn out to be either true or false.
“Misinformation & disinformation are increasingly used as weapons of war. Access to information is a human right. Credible, accurate, and human-centered communication is one of our best instruments to counter these threats,” Twitted United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Meanwhile, Guterres recently told the U.N. Security Council that the world in which peacekeepers operate “is more hazardous today than any time in recent memory,” with geopolitical tensions reverberating locally and conflicts “more complex and multi-layered.”
“Peacekeepers are facing terrorists, criminals, armed groups and their allies — many with access to powerful modern weapons, and many with a vested interest in perpetuating the chaos in which they thrive,” the U.N. chief said.
The Ilonggo community in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental has commemorated the 121st birthday of the great ring immortal Francisco Guilledo popularly known as “Pancho Villa.”
Born August 1, 1901 in Sitio Ilog, Kabankalan, Guilledo won the world flyweight crown on June 18, 1921 with a seventh round knockout over defending champion, Welshman Jimmy Wilde, at the Polo Grounds in New York.
He died 10 days after losing a non-title duel versus welterweight champion Jimmy McLarnin on July 4, 1923.
Villa was a former stevedore in the Muelly Loney port here. He was married to Gliceria Concepcion.
Iloilo boxing patron Frank Atas, Jr. said Villa’s son once managed a small boxing gym somewhere in Jaro district here.
“He resembled his father and he also loved boxing only that the press did not recognize him,” said Atas, who also once owned a boxing gym.
Touted as the greatest flyweight of the century by the Associated Press, Villa was also the first world champion from Asia.
He was one of only four Asians enshrined into the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also inducted to the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
He began his boxing career by adopting the name Pancho Villa after a famous Mexican revolutionary. After his successful bids in the Philippines, he went to New York in pursuit of international bouts.
Among his most memorable fights were his losses to former Olympic champion Frankie Genaro, who beat him on points two times in as many confrontations.
They were penciled to meet for the third time but his untimely death dashed that dream match to pieces.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)