Social media used responsibly is a force for good

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Social media used responsibly is a force for good


Social media can be a powerful force for good. How it can be used to effect positive social change, whether in advocacy work, in monitoring the performance of elected officials, or in simply changing a person’s life for the better, were the topics of the latest “#IMSocialxUP: The Think Before You Click and Youscoop Session,” a youth-oriented forum organized by the GMANews team and held today at the Malcolm Hall, College of Law, UP Diliman.

Hosted by GMA news field reporter, Miss Earth-Water 2011 titleholder and UP Diliman alumna Athena Imperial and UP Department of Political Science Assistant Professor Robert Go, the GMANews’ “#IMSocialxUP” session brought together four young, dynamic speakers from different sectors who spoke about how they useds social media to effect real-life changes.

Save Philippine Seas co-founder Anna Oposa describes some of the problems and issues in Philippine marine conservation and how SPS used social media to take steps to solve these.

Save Philippine Seas co-founder and UP Diliman alumna Anna Oposa, the first speaker, gave an overview of the state of Philippine seas, and how Save the Philippine Seas, which was first organized in 2011, uses social media as a tool in its campaign for the conservation of the country’s marine resource. She cited the versatility of social media, the low overhead costs, social media’s ability to reach the more educated citizens who are more likely to do something for the environment, and the fact that the Philippines is considered the world’s social media capital as reasons for harnessing social media as a tool in advocacy work.

Moreover, social media helps narrow the gap between scientists and the general public, bringing the biggest environmental issues close to home through shared photographs, videos and infographics. Oposa related a few of the success stories of SPS, emphasizing that “online tools may not be the only reason for a success, but it surely contributes. It adds pressure to the people involved.”

Oposa also said about continually complaining on social media: “Stop global whining. Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.” She adds that instead of “polluting the world with negativity, [ask] what you can do about it. We can’t always expect other people to do it. If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.”

YouScooper Sedricke Lapuz launches into his talk about how much difference a photo–uploaded and shared via social media–can positively change someone’s life.

YouScooper, fellow environmental advocate and UP Manila alumnus Sedricke Lapuz took the photograph of a street child reading books at a Booksale branch in Pedro Gil that went viral and eventually led to concerned people and GMA Kapuso giving support for the boy. He said that it was inspiring that a simple photograph uploaded onto and shared via social media can make a difference in someone’s life. After conducting an informal Twitter poll on whether social media is an effective tool in propagating social good, he found that social media does have great potential not only to spread information and help cause social change.

However, the more important function of social media is to raise awareness of certain issues among a broader audience.

“How much difference does a viral photo make? It helped change…lives,” he said. “Legitimate change on a wider scale? We’re still in the process of learning about it. [Social media] is still not a mature platform, unlike broadcasting. Whether or not it can effect wider change remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it can raise awareness and give inspiration.”

Comelec Director James Jimenez invites the audience to participate in the Comelec’s campaign to keep politicians in line through the use of Twitter and other social media platforms.

Speaking on social media and the upcoming national elections, Comelec Director and spokesperson James Jimenez admits that while government agencies want to enter the world of social media, they do find maximizing the potential of social media a challenge. Mostly politicians use it as a tool to reach out to the voters.

But for the 2016 elections, Comelec’s idea for social media is not for it to provide a venue for politicians to campaign better, but for the Comelec to better use it to transform “global whining” among Filipino citizens into “global action.” With this in mind, Comelec partnered with Twitter for the upcoming 2016 presidential debates with the hashtags #PiliPinasElections2016, #PiliPinasDebate2016 and #TwitterElection, with the first presidential debate to be held on February 21 in Cagayan de Oro, sponsored by GMA. Ordinary citizens can directly tweet their questions to the candidates to Comelec. In addition, citizens can also tweet live reports of campaigning irregularities and voting issues using the hashtag #SumbongKo, which can help give new energy to the Comelec’s anti-epal campaign.

For Jimenez, social media activism must go beyond arm-chair clicktivism—and social media has made it easy to do just that. “It’s a way to use the medium you’re born into,” he said, addressing the students. “You’re digital natives. This is the medium you know best. This bridges the gap between civic participation and being comfortable in your native environment. [Through campaigns like the #PiliPinasElections2016,] you’re still creating real-world changes doing something you’re comfortable doing.”

GMA News reporter and news anchor Ivan Mayrina gives a list of social media dos and don’ts to encourage responsible social media use.

Finally, GMA News anchor and UP Diliman alumnus Ivan Mayrina gave a concise list of social media guidelines that would allow users to maximize the good that social media can do while minimizing the bad. These social media dos and don’ts are:

1) Be truthful, accurate and fair, making sure that all sides of an issue are heard.
2) Verify facts before posting, tweeting or retweeting.
3) Don’t do or say anything in social media that you would not do in public.
4) Remember: Anything you upload can be shared by others.
5) Try to ignore tweets and comments intended to provoke quarrels.
6) Acknowledge, delete and/or correct errors, and apologize if necessary.
7) Don’t do anything stupid. Especially when taking selfies.

The “#IMSocialxUP: The Think Before You Click Session” was the last leg of the #IMSocial seminar series organized by the GMA News team with the aim to inspire students, netizens, and other media practitioners to use social media responsibly, and as a force for social change. Previous #IMSocial sessions were held at the Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University.

[From left to right] GMA News anchor Ivan Mayrina, Comelec Director James Jimenez, the two hosts Prof. Robert Go and Athena Imperial, and YouScooper Sedricke Lapuz pose for a selfie with the audience.