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Home / World / Media Boot Camp helps Filipinos find the truth, SE Asia News & Top Stories

Media Boot Camp helps Filipinos find the truth, SE Asia News & Top Stories



BALER (Philippines) • A room full of Filipino policemen and soldiers stares at headlines projected onto a screen, the latest students at a media boot camp aiming to counter the tide of counterfeit news from their nation [19659002] From Girl Scouts to government employees, they have already received the same innovative instruction in the Philippines that they consider the world's best social media user.

"Which one is real?" Ask class teacher Rowena Paraan, an experienced journalist on the Filipino TV channel ABS-CBN, while standing in a sweltering gym on a military base.

Her lesson is part of the station's longstanding citizen journalism training program. Since the end of 201

6, some 25,000 people have shown how they can tackle the wrong message that has accompanied the rise of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The first headline depicts the nation's fight against the notorious militants on its southern islands: "Donald Trump sends 5,000 troops to fight against Abu Sayyaf."

It's a fake and several students quickly shoot their hands to say it. But subsequent headlines get harder and harder until the only sound comes from Mrs. Paraan's footsteps as she walks among the students.

The training provided to groups for free provides an overview of fake news

It is one of several similar efforts that have emerged since the election of Mr. Duterte, including one made by the news website Rappler is run and known to fight with the president for his brutal drug war

Formats and content vary, but in general, the classes are run by journalists who teach social-media-obsessed teenagers not to be fooled online.

Ms. Paraan said that the risk of being manipulated has serious consequences. "It (Fake News) generates more support for the president … either encouraging you to hate the president's enemies or inviting you to support the president," she said, referring to the 2016 elections of Mr. Duterte [19659002] Mr. Duterte's camp has repeatedly been accused of using online trolls to sing his hymns of praise and savage dissenters with vehement words or even threats.

Some of his closest circles have been caught giving false information, including his former campaign spokesman.

His administration was largely silent in the classes, but spoke against a bill in Congress that would punish public officials who spread fake news.

Among the nearly three dozen police officers and soldiers in the class is the civil servant Bernadette Leander, who has come because she already has with fake news at work

After a rumor was circulated in social media that Mr. Duterte the Doubled salaries of all police, the local force was flooded with requests from potential recruits. "We told them it was not true," said Ms. Leander, who works in public affairs. "We had to conduct an information campaign (against it)."

One of the reasons the Philippines are a major battleground for fake news is the sheer volume of their online activity.

According to the consultancy We Are Social, the average Filipino spends nearly four hours a day on social media, most in the world. Facebook said the Philippines – home to 106 million people – would have 69 million users, the sixth-largest country group

With about 10 million Filipinos living abroad, the size of the Diaspora partly explains the country's preference for social media] Another Factor is the free but limited internet connection Facebook has been providing to mobile users in developing countries including the Philippines since 2015.

Ms. Paraan said that this agreement offers potentially fertile ground for fake news because users would only have to see headlines and buy clickthrough data to read a full story, key to assessing their authenticity.

However, the classes give average people some of the tools they need to defend themselves, said Luz Rimban, executive director of the Asian Center for Journalism in Manila. "There is a flood of information so we have to be our own gatekeepers," she added.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESS


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