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Fake news poses problem—SWS

The majority of Filipino Internet users believe “fake news” or false information on the Internet has become a serious problem, a Social Weather Stations survey revealed Wednesday.

The survey, fielded on March 23 to 27, 2018, showed that 67 percent of the adult Filipino Internet users polled said fake news on the Internet is a serious problem. 

Around 20 percent were undecided while 13 percent said fake news is not a serious problem, SWS said.

Meanwhile, three lawmakers on Wednesday shared their views on the SWS survey on fake news. 

As far as opposition Representatives Tom Villarin of Akbayan, Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela are concerned, it is the government’s sole responsibility to address the problem.

“It is a wake-up call to all our institutions involved in forming and disseminating information. Something must be done by way of policy and discourse for the truth,” Villarin said.

“The Goebbels mantra of repeating lies often enough so those can be passed on as the truth is still highly relevant and used extensively by government or people with ulterior motives other than the truth. Our people must fight back and reclaim public space for the truth.”

A separate survey completed in December 2017, meanwhile, showed 60 percent or six out of 10 of those surveyed believe that fake news in the traditional media is also a serious problem. 

Both the March and December surveys used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide. 

The surveys had sampling error margins of ±3 percent for the national percentages and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The March 2018 survey showed that 42 percent of the adult Filipinos surveyed are now using the internet, compared to 41 percent in June 2017.

“The annual average proportion of Internet users nationwide was 9 percent when SWS first surveyed it in 2006. It rose to 11 percent in 2007 and increased steadily to 38 percent in 2017,” SWS said.

The survey showed that among the 42 percent surveyed who are Internet users, a plurality of 32 percent use it more than three hours daily while 21 percent use it more than 2 hours daily.

SWS said 13 percent of the Filipino internet users surveyed go online less than an hour a day, while 15 percent use it a few days per week. The remaining 19 percent said they seldom use the Internet.

The March 2018 survey found that 51 percent among those surveyed who seldom use the internet said the fake news problem is serious, followed by 64 percent among those who use it a few days per week and those who use it less than an hour daily, 69 percent among those who use it 1-2 hours daily, and 77 percent among those who use it 3 hours or more daily.

The proportion of Internet users who said there is a serious problem of fake news on the internet was higher in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon, both at 71 percent, compared to Visayas at 68 percent and Mindanao at 52 percent.

A Senate investigation earlier invited key communication officials, journalists, and other concerned parties to tackle the problem of fake news.

Facebook has already tagged “fact-checkers” in various countries in a bid to stop the spread of false information. The social media giant is also facing investigation in the US over data misuse. 

Topics: Filipino Internet users , fake news , Social Weather Stations , Tom Villarin , Carlos Zarate
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