Have you ever seen a deal or offer on the internet that sounded too good to be true? Or maybe one of those template photo quotes that just seems incredulous or absurd? Maybe it’s just kathang isip.
The best way is to be cautious, verify or “Mag-Ingat,” as the new Ben&Ben song goes.
The nine-piece folk ensemble released on Internet Safety Day a catchy new record and music video that reminds online citizens of the dangers on the internet, from side gigs promising cash, to catfishing and consuming and sharing unverified content.
The YouTube-first content from Ben&Ben is an advocacy project, a product of a collaboration with Google Philippines. But vocalist Miguel Benjamin Guico said in an online presser that theme was also personal to the band—one that resonated with its members.
Patricia Lasaten (on keys), said she used to share content on a whim without checking sources, while Jam Villanueva (on drums) and her family also had a personal experience with catfishing.
Both experiences became learning processes for the two musicians. Lasaten said she eventually developed the habit of verifying sources, while Villanueva said she and her family educated themselves on internet safety, especially for catfishing red flags to watch out for.
Cross check before sharing
Guico said that while some of the things shared and reshared online may seem shallow and harmless, there are also certain types of content that must be cross-checked before pressing the share button. The content may be about that black-and-white photo card of a personality who reportedly passed away, or news about the lockdown measures.
“Always have reliable sources of information and cross-check it with more than one [source],” he said. “The internet is such a communal place no matter where you’re from . . . regardless of your background. And when you are in one, there are certain responsibilities, you can’t just do anything you want.”
The song was also released at a crucial time, as the campaign season for the 2022 presidential election kicked off, with more content, verified or not, spreading all over the internet. Guico said that even if it were not an election year, the message of the song is still important, as disinformation has been rampant for several years now.
It’s important to flag someone who shared false content on social, he said, but one must do so in a nice way.
“Making that difference of reaching out to actual people, that’s the key to fighting this. [But] by reminding ourselves at the same time that the ones we’re trying to reach out to [to inform that that is] fake news yan, that’s a troll account or that’s not a verified source, is a person who is as prone to mistakes as you. That level of empathy would probably be the key to moving forward,” he said.
Aside from checking sources, the band also warned of safety risks when using the internet, like scams when shopping online.
Despite the challenges, there are resources available to safely navigate on the internet.
Yves Gonzalez, head of Google Philippines’ government affairs and public policy, said the tech giant has a safety center that’s available in Filipino, and security and password check to protect accounts. Google is also actively pushing for the use of two-step verification so users would have another level of security when it comes to their accounts.
Ultimately, Ben&Ben’s message said users have the power to discern the truth on the internet and protect themselves from online risks. INQ