According to the Inquirer Editor, camps aligned (loosely or tightly) with the Philippines’ Opposition are “fighting back”. Leading this “fight”, they claim, is “vice president” Leni Robredo who has seemingly taken it up upon herself to serve as the Opposition’s mouthpiece from within Malacanang.
Robredo’s jump-off point for this new “assault” on “fake news” and social media trollery is the recent explosive exposé on the alleged dark side of her and her late husband — Jesse Robredo’s — political brand detonated by the anonymous blogger group We Are Collective (WAC). Robredo’s whine is basically about how she and her late husband’s memory had become victims of this explosion of debatable “revelations”…
“My husband is not here to defend himself,” VP Robredo said, adding that filing a case in court was among the options she was considering as a “principled response” to the dirty posts.
It is worth noting that WAC itself has had its own bad days of spotty credibility (its Facebook page and website had been shut down) and had thrown the various cliques of social media personalities aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte into turmoil and in-fighting. Some pro-Duterte personalities who had earlier contributed to the hype in the lead up to the debut of the WAC exposé have had to backtrack on their endorsement of its “revelations” and suffered a resulting dent on their own respective personal brands.
Indeed, the fallout from the WAC debacle not only damaged the Robredo camp. It also damaged the brand equity of key parties and personalities within the pro-Duterte camp. Such is the potency of social media — not in terms of adding to the collective intellect of humanity but in terms of exposing its impotence and inability to function properly in the face of a torrent of information new technologies serve up to humanity in increasingly voluminous data streams.
The key point being missed by those who lament “fake news” and social media trollery is in how all this, really, is the new 21st Century challenge to our species’ ability to think things through. Before the advent of social media or, for that matter, even older mass media piped through broadcast radio, television, and newspapers, people already generally struggled with making sense of and sorting through information coming through their gadgets (whether these gadgets are big appliances sitting on their living room floors or the newer and tinier ones permanently cradled on millennial’s palms).
On that, it is worth reminding “vice president” Leni Robredo that her Yellow Camp had itself sustained even more vicious trollery against its enemies during their day. The “evidence” used by the prosecution panel in the impeachment of the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona, for example, was found to be all fake. What is more astounding about this fake information presented to no less than the Philippine Senate was that these were broadcast and propagated through channels normally regarded as the mainstream — via big (and erstwhile “respectable”) corporate media outlets like the Inquirer andABS-CBN and via no less than the Senate itself which, for months during this impeachment “trial” served as the sounding board of the Aquino administration’s campaign to demonise and persecute Corona.
Some news sites like Rappler had even resorted to potentially criminal means to contribute to this persecution effort using illegally-obtained information on Corona’s private bank accounts and packaging these into “news reports” written by their so-called “online journalists”.
In short, nobody can claim to be “fighting against” social media trollery and “fake news” — because all camps are guilty of engaging in trollery and propagating “fake news”. Don’t blame the technology. Blame a far more ancient malaise: Idiotmembers of the species who prefer believing over thinking.