For bet­ter or worse

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion -

against their brand of Duterte pol­i­tics.

It is not the case that Zucker­berg and face­book sud­denly turned “Di­lawan”. Af­ter the mas­sive data breach com­pro­mis­ing bil­lions of face­book users, in­clud­ing mil­lions or so from the Philip­pines, the so­cial me­dia giant is on a mas­sive PR cam­paign to prop up its cred­i­bil­ity. The com­pany’s first strat­egy is to fi­nally heed the clamor of those who be­lieve that the in­ter­net should be reg­u­lated with a quick crack­down on iden­ti­fied pur­vey­ors of “fake news”. But ac­cord­ing to whose stan­dards should fake news be de­ter­mined?

Inau­then­tic­ity or what we nowa­days re­gard as “fake” is al­ways in the eye of the be­holder. From the point of view of non-be­liev­ers, re­li­gious posts are ex­am­ples of fake news. Does it mean that peo­ple should be pre­vented from pro­fess­ing their faith on­line? At the risk of sound­ing like a DDS on­line fire­brand, I ac­tu­ally sym­pa­thize with the Duterte broth­er­hood and their cry of po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion from the knee-jerk face­book re­ac­tion. I also wonder how the ac­cred­ited thought po­lice would go about do­ing their task.

For in­stance, all this hul­la­baloo could be traced to the ri­valry be­tween tradiin tional news me­dia that op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try stan­dards of fact-check­ing and edi­to­rial su­per­vi­sion among other good in­dus­try prac­tices ver­sus the rise of new me­dia stal­warts that glee­fully dis­cards all these stan­dards in fa­vor of un­bri­dled and un­ver­i­fied news re­port­ing that the in­ter­net tech­no­log­i­cally al­lows. Should the in­ter­net just be for the for­mer and not the lat­ter as what face­book seems to in­di­cate in their lat­est move? When they cite com­mu­nity stan­dards, whose par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity are they speak­ing from - the white lib­eral an­glosaxon type?

In many of their posts, the Duterte mob al­ways cite the re­volt of the cit­i­zen jour­nal­ist/blog­ger who val­i­date their truth through the num­ber of shares and likes they garner on the so­cial me­dia plat­form. Fi­nally, in­for­ma­tion is not any­more fil­tered through the es­tab­lished chan­nels full of snob­bery and gate­keep­ing. The DDS champions are there­fore some­what cor­rect in look­ing for an­other so­cial me­dia plat­fom where they do not feel this kind of dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Ide­ally, the rise of DDS on­line army is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the most demo­cratic and an­ar­chic im­pulses of the in­ter­net as a tech­nol­ogy. If only they are truly cy­ber­punks out to turn the on­line and real world up­side down with their rad­i­cal pol­i­tics. But sadly, that is not so. Many of them are ac­tu­ally what they now call as “so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers,” a eu­phemism for paid pub­li­cists do­ing the pro­pa­ganda du­ties of the same old oli­garchic in­ter­ests in the name of cit­i­zen jour­nal­ist/blog­ger. But should these at­tempts in so­cial en­gi­neer­ing by paid hacks be pre­vented in us­ing face­book or the in­ter­net as their plat­form in reach­ing their tar­get au­di­ence?

The move of face­book to po­lice so­called fake news is re­ally an ad­mis­sion of a PR cri­sis but it is a sad mis­step that mis­ap­pre­ci­ates their ac­tual reach and in­flu­ence. The mes­sage it sends is that “our com­mu­nity stan­dards” is more im­por­tant than your right to reg­is­ter your un­ver­i­fied facts or fake news. It is a sign of ab­di­ca­tion over their power be­cause face­book nowa­days ac­tu­ally IS the in­ter­net be­cause of in­flu­ence and reach. It should em­brace the crazi­ness and the an­ar­chy in­her­ent in the medium. But it seems that Zucker­berg re­mains re­luc­tant to hold the reigns of this mas­sive un­wieldy beast.

For bet­ter or for worse, the logic of the in­ter­net is an­ar­chy and ab­so­lute demo­cratic free­dom. It is at once an ideal as well as a per­for­ma­tive man­i­fes­ta­tion of our most demo­cratic im­pulses. Cen­sor­ship, as what face­book and their tra­di­tional me­dia part­ners, is do­ing right now goes against this logic. Any at­tempt to place in tight reign this tech­no­log­i­cal and so­cial im­pulse is bound to fail, just like all at­tempts to box the in­domitable hu­man spirit.

The prob­lem of fake news can­not be re­solved by moves to gag those who spew and sow con­fu­sion. In­stead, it can only reme­died by ed­u­cat­ing those who must be able to dis­cern those who are fool­ing them and why.

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