Fake news and the wayward Church


Of the many serious problems that need to be attended to, our wayward Church opted to choose the issue of fake news. Understandably, their concern is on how to zero in on the credibility of the President.

For the understanding of many, the idea of fake news came with the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Their application as a form of communication not only revolutionized our concept of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, but has created a new system called “interactive communication” between the writer and the reader. This has now empowered every individual to analyze every bit of information and react positively or negatively to it.

This is totally different from the practice of the traditional media that requires the hiring of enormous manpower to operate a big machinery to collect and disseminate information. For the fact that aside from the government, only the wealthy can own a television station, run a newspaper, and operate a radio station, certainly only the owners have a feel of what it means to have freedom of the press.

The advent of the internet, the coming of the social media and the opening of blog sites resulted in the classification of the established media as the mainstream media. It is not so much that they represent the majority view but of the fact that they dominate and almost control the dissemination of information. This is in contrast to the new and increasing popular source of information patronized by people known as “social media.”

Social media have gained acceptance that they have exceeded the number of people regularly reading the newspapers. In fact, social media have been dubbed the “magic genie” in communication. They made alive freedom of the press and freedom of expression because of interactive communication.

The social media user can deliver news and commentary in real time to audience anywhere in the world that counts him, online, as a “friend.” This explains why many newspapers and magazine have folded up with the remaining few making a break-even on what used to be a monopoly of the elite in the lucrative business of information —or as one would put it, disinformation.

Unlike the old system where readers are just fed with the news, social media give the reader not just the right to react but the choice to either share the posted views, oppose them by making his own commentaries, or delete altogether the posts of whose views he may not like.

Social media are different from the old system where one has to be emotionally affected to react. Under the old system, should one decides to answer, he runs the risk of not seeing his response on print given the usual reasoning of lack of space, except when the reactor is influential and powerful. But we know that the view of the paper often reflects the interest of the owner. In that, we could rightly conclude that the so-called freedom of the press before the advent of the social media was a myth.

Social media destroyed the traditional process on how the public should receive and assess the news. We were made to believe that our system has a built-in mechanism to automatically accord us the license to engage in the free exchange of ideas. We never had any inkling that our media tycoons are businessmen who have their own interests to protect.

To the owners of the mainstream media, only the government is capable of censorship while their systematic filtration of news and opinion is treated as one for the common good. Thus, when social media became viral, the public felt they have been liberated because for the first time since the ancient Greeks practiced direct democracy, they could participate in the discussion of any issue under the sun. It is freedom of expression in its purist form they could feel and see.

To counter that, the owners of the mainstream media came out with the crafty idea of creating fake news and attributing them as the handiwork of people indulging in social media networking. Some say the idea of fake news was conceived by the intelligence community. Fake news is better than censorship. Being a form of deception is creates disunity and confusion to the targeted political enemy.

It is not really the loss of profit they fear that the mainstream media operators but the loss of credibility because for the first time, the so-called truth they have been propagating is slipping through their system of finely woven net of filtration. Notably, the mainstream media is fast losing ground because the reading public finally realized that the magic of social media has not only become their vehicle to know the truth but has become their lethal weapon to scandalize the dregs in government.

Instead of hitting head on the increasing number of social media subscribers, they now mislead them by branding some of the information they get through social media as fake news. They even create their own blogs where their selected subscribers only express the view that often run afoul with the view of the majority. As one observed, there is no way the mainstream media can roll back the advances of social media, for what is expressed is the sentiment of the people. They may be vulgar or uncaught in their language, but they speak of their class.

The collapse of the mainstream media has become what the determinists would call “exorable event”. Our mass media, customs, mores, moral standards or all that what Marx would call the superstructure of society are being exposed as either fake, artificial, completely wrapped with hypocrisy or do not reflect the real picture of our society and the sentiments of the people.

The Church is specially being affected because the circumstance of historical development it is the one that spearheads in promoting deceit and demagoguery. People know that where the Church makes a stand, one could tell where their interest lies. The tirades of President Duterte on the Church are not about their dogma but on the clerics’ hypocrisy and eclectic ambivalence. The Church cannot continue to castigate the government where it enjoys the rare privilege of tax exemption and protection by the state it now vigorously accuses of spreading fake news. 

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