Summary of Fun Interview with DZMM SRO Show with Alvin Elchico and Doris Bigornia this evening at 8pm-8:15pm on the Facebook-Rappler-VeraFiles team-up to factcheck Facebook sites and posts:
It was a fun interview because the hosts punctuated with humor what would otherwise be a “polarizingly” serious topic. With 20 minutes’ notice, here’s a summary of the 15-minute phone-patched interview with DZMM hosts Alvin Elchico and Doris Bigornia on the Facebook-Rappler-VeraFiles team-up for factchecking:
(my answers to the questions were from the top of my head and “straight from my heart”)
1.Q:What can you say about the Facebook-Rappler-VeraFiles team-up to factcheck Facebook sites? Summary of answer: There are several schools of thought on this. The Libertarian school of journalism which asserts that all forms of speech and all kinds of statements are covered by the free-speech clause, without prejudice to being sued for libel, etc; it abhors all forms of censorship. Another school of thought is the Public Journalism or Committed Journalism school of thought, which asserts that while the free speech clause protects different kinds of statements, there are standards that must be met such as truthfulness, etc. (the standards of ethics).
2.i proposed to strike a balance between these two schools of thought and proposed that: instead of blocking sites that are considered to be purveyors of fake news, Facebook instead can institute a community ratings system composed of a larger group of people who will rate, not block, articles, with ratings such as “Requires Verification”; “Needs to be rewritten to comply with FB Standards”; “Without Basis”; “Relies too much on secondary sources”; etc.
3.i used an extreme example to illustrate the point. For example, the Flat Earth Society (which advances the view that the earth is flat and is surrounded by a wall): Even NASA engages them — seriously — and even provides them with visual proof. The “seriousness” of the exchange is funny and i would rather be entertained by their arguments and counter-arguments than have the site blocked.
4.i was asked: “But some of these fake news sites and articles are being shared by tens of thousands and that may be detrimental, etc”
(the interview was in Filipino)
5.i answered in this manner: “Then, we keep rating it as “Without Basis”, every post of it, every share, and every article. Mas matrabaho ito (This is infinitely more tedious). Rating each article instead of blocking an entire site is more laborious, mas madali na i-block mo na lang ang buong site. (it is easier to just block an entire site)
Pero kapag block ka lang nang block (if you just keep blocking a site) hindi natuto ang mamamayan. (the audience will not learn). Ikaw ang nag-iisip para sa kanila, (you are doing the thinking for them). Isang maliit na grupo ng editors ang nag-iisip para sa kanila, (a small group of editors will do the thinking for them), sa halip na sila ang mapaisip at mag-isip (instead of the readers and viewers being able to think for themselves). Kapag may ratings iyan (if you put ratings there), mas maraming matutunan ang mamamayan kung makikita nila kung paano mag-verify, paano magwasto, bakit mali itong artikulo na ito at ang pagkasulat ay kailangang iwasto (readers and viewers will learn a lot more if they see how an article needs to be verified, how it needs to be corrected, why it is inaccurate, how it needs to be re-written).
The danger with instituting a small group of “blockers” is: What if it is no longer Vera Files, or Rappler, that’s assigned to it? (What if it’s another group that has been chosen by an algorithm?)
6.Alvin and Doris had very intelligent and difficult follow-up questions: Paano kung puro mga trolls iyan, paramihan tayo ng trolls, kung sino maraming pera maraming trolls, palitan tayo ng edits nang walang katapusan, mauubos na ang panahon natin. (But what if each group has tens of thousands of trolls, whoever has more money would have more trolls, there will just be unending exchange of edits, there will be no end to it, all of our time will be wasted exchanging edits…?)
7.Summary of answer: That is the dilemma. The short cut is to keep blocking the sites that are considered fake news sites. The longer and more difficult road is to equip people with critical faculties by showing them the fake news site then showing the rating for it, with a link explaining the rating. i said something like: Ganoon ang katumbas, o cost, ng isang democratic space: Ito ay walang katapusang pagtutunggali ng tama at mali; kung sino ang mas masigasig at mas mahusay o mas wasto, siya ang mananalo. Kailangang magtiwala tayo sa mga mamamayan na sa kalaunan ay matututo sila, hanggang sa punto na makikilala kaagad nila ang fake news at sila na ang magwawaksi nito. Pero hindi sila matututo kung puro block nang block ng sites ang gagawin natin. Mas matututo sila kung lalagyan natin ito ng ratings at ipaliwanag ang batayan nang hindi natin i-block para makita nila, mas marami silang matutunan. (That is the price of having democractic space. It is an unceasing struggle between truth and falsehood. Your commitment to the truth will determine your success. We have to trust in the capacity of the people to learn to think for themselves, that in the long run, they themselves will learn to identify fake news and reject it themselves.
(the interview was quite extensive and even covered litigation, libel, how to sue Facebook, how to hold Facebook accountable. This is just a summary.)