By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
THE fact that Mocha Uson resigned does not mean that “fake news” will disappear in Malacañang. She did not invent fake news. Fake news began before her time. The reason we are so concerned is not so much because of her person, but because the entire information system is at stake and we have not fully realized its complexity and power.
“Fake news” is real. According to a University of Oxford study on the 2016 US elections, “news from professional organizations and what they call “junk news” were shared in a one-to-one ratio on social media.” It greets the public every day, and is shared with a click of a finger, by many who do not verify the source of information. It is aggravated by “loosely connected groups attempting to influence public opinion and disseminated as part of sophisticated disinformation campaigns using bots and paid trolls.” The level of creating and sharing false information is alarming, and this is the reason why researchers are focused on developing alternatives to mitigate its impact. Claire Wardle, expanding on the work of Eliot Higgins, have identified four additional motivations for the creation of fake news: “Poor Journalism, Parody, to Provoke or ‘Punk’, Passion, Partisanship, Profit, Political Influence or Power, and Propaganda.”
It becomes imperative that we understand how fake news is created if we are to reduce the junk in the entire information system. This is important for the public to be able to understand and discern from the bombardment that occurs in the information stream.
In his historical play Cardinal Richelieu, novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword” which means that we can achieve our goals better and more effectively through communication with words than by force, aggression or weaponry. Because words can be inspiring and lethal at the same time, those gifted with the facility to write must take on the great responsibility and consciousness to use it to advance critical thinking and understanding.
Writers must be careful of their narratives and actively rein in too much aggression that could only deaden consciousness and not rouse the readers from their deep sleep. Ideally, reading must “wake up” and allow the readers to contemplate and engage in the realities of their lives, without bombarding them with what to believe.
The role of the writer is to inspire thought. Write to illuminate, not to sow confusion or annihilate opposition, or present a disproportionate reality that prevents real understanding and discernment.
a little tweak, a little blur
colors here and there
a little brush, a little touch
she changes, here and there
she changes, she touches
her fingers, weaving magic
she smudges, she brushes
the shadows of the tragic.
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