Facebook to train 1 million Filipinos on 'positive, safe' online culture

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2019 03:04 PM

MANILA - Facebook said Tuesday it would train 1 million Filipinos in fostering a "positive and safe" culture online, as it cracked down on misinformation in the platform.

Using online and in-person training modules, "Digital Tayo" will equip users with skills to discern fake news from credible content, empathize with users online and engage in online discussions, the world's largest social network said.

Facebook said the initiative comes at a crucial time since Filipinos spend the most time online worldwide at 10 hours and 2 minutes everyday, according to a We Are Social 2019 Digital Report.

Filipinos are also the “heaviest users of social media” spending an average of 4 hours and 12 minutes, twice the worldwide average of 2 hours and 16 minutes, it said. 

“Based on the research I’ve seen, the Philippines is definitely an engaged community. The statistics we have indicates that people are interested in being part of the community,” said Clair Deevy, Facebook’s director for Community Affairs in Asia Pacific and Latin America.

“Anytime you bring people together there are opportunities and challenges and the idea with this training is to give people the skills, to, once you have access to all this information, how to think critically about it. Is it real, is it unreal, is it somebody’s opinion. If you disagree with that opinion, perhaps argue your point in a respectful way,” she added.

Digital footprint, understanding the internet, critical thinking, online responsibility, misinformation and insight to digital discourse are among the topics to be discussed in Facebook’s digital literacy modules. 

Currently, 93 percent of Filipinos “make an effort” to verify news articles posted in social media, a YouGov 2019 survey commissioned by Facebook showed. 

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the YouGov poll said they are willing to listen and to try to understand other people’s views in face to face conversations, compared to 37 percent in an online argument.

Forty percent said they ignore hate speech while 28 percent said they reported such posts.

"The numbers show that there’s a lot to be done… but making this happen is a shared responsibility," said Facebook Philippine head of Public Policy Claire Amador.

Facebook Philippines partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and various non-government and civil organizations to reach student leaders, overseas workers, parents and community leaders nationwide. 

At least 80,000 overseas Filipino workers have benefited from OWWA’s digital literacy partnership with Facebook for pre-departure seminar, aimed to protect them from online scams. 

Assistant Secretary Alan Selor of the DICT said the partnership would empower citizens and help protect users from “harmful acts” online such as “fake news, hate speech and anti-government propaganda.”

Modules ranging from 30 to 45 minutes will be available for free download on Digital Tayo’s official page for free.