FAKE NEWS on social media stems from the culture of individualism, the director of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) Office of Communications said during the fifth installment of the Media Leadership Lecture Series on April 14. 

“Everytime you emphasize that you have your own right and your own truth, the truth is, ikaw ay maaari nang fake news peddler,” Fr. Roy Bellen said. 

Bellen said the objective of social media is to foster communities, not promote individualism.

“Media and communications is a gift meant to build communities and raise humanity […] not a tool to be used to destroy others and lift up one’s self and one’s self-serving interests,” he said in his talk, “The Chismis (Gossip) and the Church: Responding to Information Disorder in the Philippines from the Perspective of the Catholic Church.”

The Manila archdiocese is engaging in four initiatives to address disinformation online: practicing media relations and literacy, re-establishment and fortification of networks, evangelization, and formation. 

Bellen said the annual National Catholic Media Convention has boosted connections with dioceses nationwide to disseminate information about the Church efficiently.

Madalas, mga kabataan are the ones doing Facebook Live, doing [content] creation sa mga parishes. We try to tap them, train them and put them in a network, na ‘pag mag-post ang office po namin ng mensahe po ng cardinal, sana mabilis kumalat,” he said. 

Anchored on the Gospel’s proclamation to be an “apostolate that evangelizes,” the Church, Bellen said, strives to deal with the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rampant disinformation online.

Ang sabi nga daw po, ang Simbahan, pag medyo maginhawa ang buhay, walang problema, it becomes lax. But when there are trials and […] crises, the Church goes and walks on its toes. Siya po ay [laging] alert.”

Honed at home

Early formation of children to combat fake news starts at home, Bellen said in an interview with the Varsitarian

“Be patient po and spend more time sa mga anak […] Have time to teach, to guide these children in the right way of doing things. Teach them about morality, about faith, about God,” he said.

The RCAM communications director cited traditional media as another tool to stop the spread of fake news.

The fifth installment of the Media Leadership Lecture Series, organized by the UST Office of Public Affairs, carried the theme “The Academe, Church, Media and Civil Society: A Multi-Sectoral Initiative in Countering Information Disorder in the Philippines.”

Speakers included Sheila Siar, a director at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies; Felipe Salvosa II, UST journalism program coordinator and Varsitarian assistant publications adviser; Atom Araullo, broadcast journalist for GMA Integrated News; Joie Cruz, founder of global social innovation company Limitless Lab; and Gabriel Billones Jr., founder of civic society organization Break the Fake Movement. A.B. Maestrado with reports from Justin Benedict T. Lim 


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