One of the primary uses of social media as a technological innovation is to “facilitate the creation and sharing of information.” According to Merriam-Webster, Social Media are forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).
That said, engaging with social media is a big responsibility that we need to be very careful in many aspects of creating and sharing information.
The means of communication and information is slowly changing
I’ve heard it before, and I would like to reiterate it now. The way we communicate has changed. With the rise of electronic devices and the availability of the Internet and it being more mobile, we can connect right away, wherever, whenever and whatever way we want. Because of the Internet, engaging with other people became faster, much cheaper in terms of spending time and effort, as well as money. There are still others who would spend their time going to bookstores or stationary shops to buy greeting cards for birthday, wedding, and other occasions. But there is also a majority that this simple practice turned into something lesser or not doing at all.
Retrieving information also has changed. During the time that the Internet is not yet prevalent in the Philippines, we look for answers for term papers and research on huge volumes of encyclopedias and reference books. We collect data and sources from hundreds of pages of hardbound books. We will spend hours and hours to flip those pages and write everything (or photocopy) the pages we think can help us get A scores on our thesis papers. To add the horrendous time we spend on typing everything from the reference books to clean paper.
Even on the birth of home computers, we still need to get packs of CDs from encyclopedia companies like Encarta to get the clearer picture of the heavenly planets, parts of a flower, and the anatomy of a human body.
But in the most recent years, print becomes digital. In 2012, Encyclopedia Britannica announced that their 2010 32-volume set will be its last (because they print new volumes every two years). For more than 200 years, the company that produces the much-loved volumes of reference books ceased its printing.
On the bright side, because of the innovation of technology like the Internet, information can be retrieved easily and comfortably. There is an upside and also a downside to it being as it is, and let’s talk more about the latter.
The importance of blogging and the responsibility
Since technology became an arm’s length reach, sharing of information can easily scatter on the Internet and these can gather people, a huge number of people. Let’s consider Facebook on its pinnacle level. The social networking platform already has a multitude of users: 2 billion worldwide. With a simple click of the “share button”, an information can be easily shared online and can influence lots of people. Spreading of information has turned into something that is as fast and as wide as a forest fire.
Bloggers are one of the majorities who use social media. As they aim to convey the information and wish to influence others on what they publish. As a responsible one, there are 5 characters of a blogging leader that I have discussed on one of my blogging workshops last year in Cebu called, “Blogging for Change.” These characteristics are crucial to bloggers and what they do. As bloggers, they wanted to promote or introduce change to a specific audience. Once they have achieved to gain these characteristics, blogging becomes a responsibility.
1) Insight. Sometimes we refer to this as vision, but that usually has exclusive reference to the future. While bloggers must have a vision, they need more. They need wisdom and discernment. They need to be able to look at complex situations, gain clarity, and determine a course of action.
2) Initiative. Bloggers who want to be blogging leaders go first. They don’t sit on the sidelines. They don’t ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves. Instead, they lead by example both online and offline.
Think about your purpose, that is the most important thing.
3) Influence. Blogging leaders are contagious. People “catch” what they have. Yes, a lot more is caught than taught. People are drawn to their vision and their values. They are able to gather a following and move people to act. They are like human wave pools, creating a ripple effect wherever they go.
4) Impact. At the end of the day, blogging leaders make a difference. The world, society, and the organizations are changed because of their leadership. They are able to create real and lasting change. The measure of leadership in blogging cannot be found in the blogger. It is found in the impact the blogger has on their followers on social media.
5) Integrity. The blogger and its leadership in blogging do not just have insight, initiative, influence, and impact. They are integrated with the highest value: Integrity. It ultimately determines the quality of a blogger’s impact. In a sense, integrity is the foundation of authentic blogging leadership.
Sad to say, here comes the fake news on social media and in this case, bloggers are placed in the hot seat.
What’s happening on social media? Who’s
to blame responsible for this?
Bloggers are responsible for the dissemination of the information online. Readers and users are also responsible for sharing them with their family members and colleagues. In short, everyone is responsible for the widespread of fake news. Let us all stop the naming and blaming games for whose responsibility this outrage has come. Put in mind that we have our own roles of the troubles of fake news and we should play them fairly and with good character. We can still redeem ourselves from stopping the spreading of false information. But then again, this is very challenging.
People on social media are easily get caught off guard and get hypnotized by fake news. And they tend to forget what Pia Wurtzbach said during her final answer during her win at Binibining Pilipinas 2015. She ended her answer with “Always think before you click.” But assumably, this is never the winning action for everyone on social media. A study was conducted by universities on what we can do to spot fake news.
According to the study, one of the tips to detect fake news is by checking the source of the information. Make sure that one must surely know exactly which website did the source come from and decide if it’s something worth trusting or not. Make it a habit to check the website name and the website address and be skeptical if the information comes from a source that is reputable.
One must also check if the information is present and relevant to other sources. If similar details are available to other reliable sources, that can be a sign that the website you are looking at is convincing in providing the information. Read the content properly because websites with fake news are published for comical or satirical effect. Sometimes these contents were written to pull the leg off of someone being talked about or just for the sake of making fun. Validate if the information is truthful and significant to the subject matter.
Check the dates when the posts were published and research for other sources to make sure the information is correct. And lastly, cross-check the context. Just because the content is dramatic and emotional, it does not mean it is the truth. There are lots of reports about death hoax of celebrities. Don’t get deceived by these kinds of news about a news about a TV personality has died. Find other information about it and be in control on what you share on social media.
What we can do and my contribution as a blogger
I am not considered highly and expert on this matter. That is why I did some research online before coming up with this blog post and it took me three (3) days to come up with this write-up. As a blogger, what I can give my readers and followers, and to the community who reads this website is this: keep on learning and understanding of how important it is for us to have the proper online etiquette on social media. Engaging with the public through social media is something we need to think about deeply and wisely.
This is not only applicable to Cebu City, or to the Philippines alone. It is very relevant to the whole world. The widespread of fake news is getting worst to any part of the world. I am singular, but I am still hoping that through this article, you have learned things that are essential to help us solve the epidemic of fake news on the Internet and everything starts in each and every one of us.
I have decided to write my sentiments about this existing challenge as both a member of the Cebuano society and as an online promoter of Cebu through this blog. I am always hoping and praying that you do the same in your own way, may it be blogging, sharing, posting photos and tweeting. Everyone’s participation can make a big difference to destroy fake news. Let us all make social media the platform to spread good vibes with fairness and truth. Make this purpose a calling for a responsible social media user.
If there are some things that I have missed, I will be very glad if you share them with me in the comment section below. Have a good one.