The Abuse of Media Freedom and its Gullible Audience

 

(Please note that this post was created to fulfill an academic requirement in Development Communication 80 – Communication and Society.)

It was April 22, 2014 when thousands of Filipinos and their foreign relatives rejoiced after news about the removal of US Visa requirements for Filipinos spread like wildfire on social media platforms. It was shared by 10 thousand people on the social media app, “Facebook” and had exactly 711 “5 star ratings” and 540 comments on their main website, the Adobo chronicles. The post was good news for many people, as getting a US Visa as very difficult and traveling to the US was not possible without having a Visa approved. The post received many positive interactions, a mixture of happiness and inquiries, of when it will be official, flooded social media websites, none of which questioned the validity of the post and actually confirmed it.

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At 7:55 AM the next day, an official statement from the PHL Embassy at Washington denied the news and stated,

“The Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines would like to inform the public that there is no truth to what appears to be an online news report that the United States has announced a ‘no visa’ policy for Filipinos. The Embassy has been in touch with the US Department of State, which has denied making such an announcement.”

Satirical Websites and Widespread Misuse of Information

— making the life changing post, that made thousands of Filipinos rejoice, a hoax. A satirical post made solely and exclusively to fool and humiliate those who are too quick to react and too lazy to double check facts. A good laugh for the educated and an embarrassment for those who fail to read the fine lines of these types of websites.

The Adobo Chronicles, (visit here at Adobo Chronicles) the source of the infamous “Visa” article clearly states that their website is created for entertainment and that it contains ” up to date unbelievable news. Everything is based on fact, except for the lies”. If the disclaimer is that clear and conspicuous, why then were thousands of Filipinos fooled by this satirical post? Why was this post even allowed to exist and why did the Embassy have to deny the rumor if it was so easy to determine its validity.

Legitimacy and how to prove it

If you think about it, an individual can easily determine if a news story shared online is legitimate or a hoax. Not only would the news content be out of this world and very weird but also, if the content of the news may seem real, the source can easily be checked for credibility and if it follows the proper standards. Lastly, one can look over at the author of the post and check if this is an actual person from an actual news agency/site.

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The Abuse of Media

We, as a citizen of a Democratic country, are allowed to freely express ourselves and the freedom of the press but it is not without repercussions. Laws were created in order to regulate expression and make sure that no one gets away with misusing the power of media and information. Misuse of speech that oversteps an individual’s rights like Libel, Slander and Defamation elicits punishment that can lead to serving time in jail or shut down/suspension of their media platform. But what about these types of misuse of information? Who are prosecuting these people, who enjoy on taking advantage of the haphazard habits of thousands of people? Why isn’t the Abuse of media being stopped by those in power.

This habit of irresponsible creation and dissemination of information in the Philippines grows every minute and every time a person shares an information they did not double check and validate, it is something that we must stop. The abuse of those who misleads the public for entertainment purposes does not contribute to the greater good and only proves how both media and its users are in need of a thorough education, guidance and a fair system to regulate their content.

The Gullible Audience and what we should do

Media in the Philippines is being abused not only by those who create information but also by those who devour it and share it to other people. Information is vital so that the public are able to learn and get a grasp of any situation and by having learned that, are able to decide better and act more responsibly on different scenarios. If the public are fed with wrong and misleading information then their judgements are automatically impaired, then their arguments are unsupported, they then make the wrong choices.

The relationship between media and our society is toxic and flawed. We let everything we see online make an impact in our lives, we judge celebrities, personalities and those in power harshly through our media platforms and are uninterested to open our minds for other views, we know about hoaxes and satirical posts but share them anyway for the sake of entertainment and we see the wrong in everything but our own self. If someone was tasked to control media usage and content creation, I’m honestly sure that most of us has had our media access revoked.

Misinformation can destroy lives

We should not belittle misinformation and what it can do. There’s no such thing as a safe misleading news. Every little detail can hurt someone or something, it can even destroy. We should always be careful about how we behave online and on what we share. Let us think before we click and share, it will surely make a difference. Adobo Chronicles is not alone in making fools of us consumers and writers alike, there are many more like them and many more will rise and continue on providing the country with their false and entertaining information. We should not let the abuse continue.

PS: If you’re interested to know more about Satirical websites and which ones are, I suggest you visit this article made by GMA Network. (Visit at: Think before you click)

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What do you think about the post? Do you know of any Satirical websites like the Adobo Chronicles? How do you feel about them? Comment your thoughts below! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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