2016 YEARENDER

Change has come to social media

Benise Chiara Balaoing, April Anne Benjamin, Ker Oliva, Pia Regalado, Chynna Santos

Posted at Dec 29 2016 04:16 PM | Updated as of Jan 03 2017 11:21 AM

To those who lived before this year, social media was that Internet thing that helped family and friends stay connected, helped in discovery of common interests, and spotlighted issues or problems. And then 2016 happened.

1. Fake news

An observable string of fake news -- invented or exaggerated news stories that were made to appear supposedly credible by falsely attributing it to an established news organization – preceded an announcement of the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, that his social media group would take concrete steps to rein in the fakery.

In his announcement about fighting fake news, Zuckerberg cited the need "to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful." And while he has said that much progress has been made on this front, he also acknowledged that there is still much work to be done.

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2. Unsubstantiated/ Uninvestigated claims that wittingly/ Unwittingly promoted an agenda

A post published before the 2016 Philippine elections on how Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong supposedly endorsed then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte went viral around April. A photo of Lee, with a caption saying, "Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is the only presidential candidate that could make Philippines like Singapore" spread online.

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3. Hatred, Violence, Intimidation

A veteran journalist, Inday Espina-Varona is known for her hard-hitting commentaries, the most recent of which was on the divisive issue of the interment of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Within a week of the controversial burial, Varona was locked out of her Facebook account, a verified personal page. Her access was restored, but she is not to be the last journalist whose Facebook account was compromised.

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4. On an election year, social media hailed some as heroes, but cast doubt on others.

Digital marketers in conferences have spoken about the phenomenon of a "social media veto." But a "social media vote" was untested – possibly until this year's elections, when people said social media changed the game.

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5. Did hyper-partisan Facebook accounts and pages 'filter bubble' us?

Hyper-partisan Facebook pages have cropped up in the Philippines largely as a product of a volatile election season that saw candidates heavily relying on social media for support and exposure.

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6. Alt + Journ?

There is an argument that goes this way: hyper-partisan Facebook pages, websites, and blogs restore balance in a conversation made lopsided by biased mainstream media. The argument further says the hyper-partisan social media is a product of the public’s growing distrust on mainstream media.

But can hyper-partisan forums on social media succeed where traditional journalism has supposedly failed?

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