Tag Archives: social media

Column: Why we MUST fight fakes

Published on January 24, 2017.

The inauguration of the Trump presidency is a true, deeply disorienting pivot in history; it may lead to the end of the post-World War II international order. The only certainty is uncertainty: As his dark inaugural address reminded us and his first acts in office confirmed, Donald Trump will upend many rules and traditions designed to limit the power of the American president, and as a consequence dramatically reshape US relations with the rest of the world.

But many Filipinos watching the Trump takeover over the weekend may have felt a shiver of déjà vu. We’ve seen this kind of brash talk, media hostility and enemy-oriented war footing before; when President Duterte speaks of the illegal drugs problem he is fixated on, it can assume the contours of the apocalypse. If Trump has his American Carnage, Mr. Duterte has his Philippine Collapse (or, maybe, Pambansang Bad Trip). If Trump has his “movement,” Mr. Duterte has his 16 million voters (a part of the body politic he sometimes mistakes for the entire country). And if Trump has his Twitter-enabled, cable-news-fueled campaign against media, Mr. Duterte has his social media army (and his sometimes uncontained contempt for inquisitive journalists).

But in at least one aspect, President Trump has trumped President Duterte. From Day One, the American president and his administration have declared war on reality; both Trump and Press Secretary Sean Spicer have for instance falsely claimed a much larger estimate for the inaugural crowd, despite overwhelming TV, photographic, and eyewitness evidence; and adviser and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway rationalized the false claims as “alternative facts.” The most that Mr. Duterte and his various spokespersons have done is either blame the media for reporting his statements, or ask journalists to exercise “creative imagination” in interpreting the remarks. Continue reading


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Column: Doubt everything

Published on March 15, 2016.

I HAD the privilege of giving a talk at TEDxADMU on Sunday. The topic had seized my imagination: “How to train your outrage.” Here, with your indulgence, is an extended excerpt:

What is this outrage culture we are living in, and what do we do about it?

The Urban Dictionary actually has a definition. The outrage culture is where people “bend over backwards to be as offended as possible.” Ryan Holiday of the Observer defines it by its product, “outrage porn,” and describes it by its characteristic: “perpetual indignation.” Jon Ronson wrote an entire book about its corollary, Internet shaming, which “targeted not just powerful institutions and public figures but really anyone perceived to have done something offensive.”

The outrage culture, then, is that state of constant offendedness, or at least a heightened sensitivity to take offense, which results in what we can call virtual outrage: outrage that is itself insensitive, one-dimensional, skin-deep—and ultimately self-regarding. It is opinion, not as Ego, but as Id. Continue reading

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Column: “If the news is that important, it will find me”

Excerpts from prepared remarks read at the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines Summit on September 10, 2015, and published on September 15. 

I wanted to begin by revisiting our most recent collective trauma: [last] Tuesday’s traffic apocalypse.

One photo of the scene on Edsa went viral; [on Thursday], it [was] front and center of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was also the Top Story on Inquirer.net [in the] morning.

Traffic PDI

As far as I can tell, it went viral on Twitter through @orangemagTV, an events magazine.

But it started as a photo taken by a 29-year-old man, now known to many simply as MykJosh.

The photo has since taken on a life of its own—including [a] seasonally appropriate version. Merry Christmas!

I thought I’d start with these images because they illustrate my theme: The evolution of media roles, from standard to search to social. I think this framework best makes sense of the chaos, the clutter, the constant change, reshaping the news and information landscape.

At least, it makes the most sense to me …. Continue reading

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Column: Privacy and social media: 12 theses

Published on December 16, 2014.

1. The current legal regime on privacy is based on a 19th-century understanding of the press. The influential Harvard Law Review article of Dec. 15, 1890, by Samuel Warren and justice-in-the-making Louis Brandeis, famously gave focus to the scope of that right: “the right to be let alone.” In other words, privacy as we legally understand it today has been mostly a reaction to a “too enterprising press.”

2. The article’s summary of the excesses of the press is harsh but also, as far as it goes, accurate, even today, almost 125 years later. “Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery. To satisfy a prurient taste the details of sexual relations are spread broadcast in the columns of the daily papers. To occupy the indolent, column upon column is filled with idle gossip, which can only be procured by intrusion upon the domestic circle.”

3. But social media is based on what we can call an opposite right, the right to be part of a crowd, the right to not be alone. In most cases, someone joins social media—posts a video of a Christmas party on Facebook, retweets a Dalai Lama quote on Twitter, endorses a professional on LinkedIn, and so on—in order to share something with a community.

4. The question, then, is: What does this new reality mean for the right to privacy today? Does the emergence of new media also mean a new understanding of the concept of privacy? Warren and Brandeis preface their research with a word about the evolution of law; we can take our cue from them. Continue reading

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Column: Benedict and Francis on social media

Published on June 3, 2014.

In a column I wrote over a year ago, I teased the country’s two cardinal-electors for asserting, in a news conference they called after they returned from the conclave that elected Pope Francis, that the Holy Spirit did not read social media. It was their good-natured way of expressing just how surprising the turn of events had been: the first resignation of a pope in 600 years, the first pope from the so-called New World, the first pope to be named after Francis of Assisi.

But I thought it was a mistake, theologically, to consider any form of media to be off-limits to God. I traced my argument back to Benedict XVI’s own thoughts on social media. As it happens, in the message he prepared for last year’s World Communications Day, Benedict had chosen to focus on social media. The title of the message was a useful summary: “Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization.”

If online social networks are spaces where the evangel can be shared, then by definition it cannot be off-limits to the source of the same good news. Continue reading

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Column: Confirmation bias: A case study

Links to follow! Published on August 6, 2013.

The other Friday, I had the privilege of speaking before over a thousand delegates taking part in De La Salle University’s exceptionally well-organized Student Media Congress. In direct response to the organizers’ request, I talked about how newspapers like the Inquirer were “redefining reading” and “taking print to the next level.”

I argued the following points: globally, print is very much alive; it has a future that will excite the younger generation; it will continue to form a part, even a leading part, of the media mix; and augmented reality (like INQSnap) is transforming print as we know it

This is how the Rappler story, by David Lozada, reported my half-hour on the stage:
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Column: Does the Holy Spirit read social media?

In which I suggest, ever so gently, that two cardinals revisit their theology of the media. Published on March 26, 2013.

The retired cardinal archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Rosales, had a ready answer when asked, upon returning from the conclave in Rome, why the media failed to predict the identity of the new pope. “God does not read social media,” he said.

That is the quote as found in Lito Zulueta’s comprehensive March 17 report in the Inquirer. On Zulueta’s Twitter account, the quote, tweeted at least a day before the newspaper came out, specifically names the third person of the Holy Trinity: “because the holy spirit does not read social media” (no caps).

The Wall Street Journal’s Southeast Asia Real Time blog remembered Rosales’ quip in the same, specific, fashion. Cris Larano’s engaging post quoted Rosales as saying: “The joke in Rome is that Pope Francis was elected because the Holy Spirit didn’t read social media … or watch CNN.”
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