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New normal: How I deal with friends and family sharing fake news

Do not obey your parents–until you check their sources
05:36 AM March 04, 2018

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ARTWORK BY DON MIKEL FUMAR

Know your enemy. This is a key principle in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” But what if the enemy turns out to be people close to you?

In our generation’s battle against fake news, this is a terrible dilemma that I face.

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I realized that there has been a rise in the number of nameless fake news peddlers in the country—thanks in part to the undivided attention people give Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

Unfortunately, this growing number includes some of my friends and relatives. I have learned how to stand alone and seek the most sensible ways to respond to them.

If you can’t beat them,
unfollow them.

Practically speaking, why waste time and energy brooding over your newsfeed when you can shut down some users with just one push of the Unfollow button?

At the height of my frustration, I discovered the News Feed Preferences option in my Facebook account, which allowed me to unfollow people regularly spewing fake news.

You will find it on the upper right hand corner of your screen by clicking the downward arrow button in your laptop or personal computer. In your smartphone, go to the Help & Settings option on the upper right side of the screen. Look for News Feed Preferences and choose “Unfollow people to hide their posts.”

Don’t worry, they won’t be notified. You’re welcome.

Do not obey your parents—until you check their sources.

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Since moving to Manila for college, I have been communicating with my family through Facebook Messenger. While it took a while for my parents to learn the basics of the internet, I am proud to say they now know how to share links and pictures without calling for help.

Our exchanges had always been healthy—until they sent me a fake no classes advisory. I went to our official university page to confirm the news and learned that what my parents shared with me was a link from a prankish Facebook page.

The least I can do is to remind them to always verify the date and sources of their information. Whenever they forget, I remember their patience the first time they taught me how to walk or eat with a spoon and fork.

Silence is not always a great source of strength.

Life seems easier when we criticize President Duterte and his diehard supporters. We will never eat lunch with them anyway or come face-to-face with them.

But it’s different with friends, family and relatives. We live and spend time with them. Hard feelings could build up, and this is what I try to avoid.

However, even if you hold your peace, fake news will not go away. It will keep on misleading people. Every day it mutates into different forms of trickery. From fake online sites, pages and accounts, to well-crafted infographics, fake news comes in different forms and we have no idea what its purveyors are going to do next.

As Harry Potter’s Professor Albus Dumbledore said, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” And family, may we add.

Talking to friends and relatives about their fake news posts will probably cost us a few seconds of awkwardness or embarrassed laughter. But what is important is our attempt to enlighten them and, in the process, help them and our country beat fake news and allow truth to prevail.

One more rule and reminder: Given the hoax that surrounds us, verification—not only honesty—is the best policy.

Disclaimer: No friendship and family ties were meant to be harmed in the writing of this article. —CONTRIBUTED

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TAGS: “Dutertards”, fake news, Trolls
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