UP, the Ateneo study warns about the credibility of social media news

As more and more Pinoys take to social media for news and other information, professors at the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) are cautioning and urging Pinoys to diversify sources of information.

The study published by the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) showed that 79% of Filipinos said that they often get their information from accidental or random information on their Facebook feed.

The results of the online survey of 2,000 respondents also showed that 66% received their information on television; some 57% of YouTube; and 54 percent from news websites.

“We want to remind the public that it is not enough to get political information from your Facebook feed. The habit of actively seeking information from a variety of credible sources is very important in increasing your understanding of politics and your level of confidence in participating in political affairs,” said Ma. Rosel San Pascual.

The results also showed that two out of three respondents, or around 71%, said they pay attention to posts about government and politics on their Facebook feed.

Some 59% also said they would click on the link to the full story or watch the video at least most of the time whenever they saw political news on their Facebook feed.

This indicates, according to the researchers, that political news on Facebook is a type of content worthy of attention for respondents. It’s also something they would likely engage with whenever it pops up on their Facebook feed.

However, respondents pointed out that clicking on a story or video does not guarantee respondents will read or watch the entire story or video.

The study also highlighted the need to always check the credibility of the source of news that the public encounters online and to always verify its content.

It is also very important to read the full story and watch the full video after checking the credibility of the reports. San Pascual noted that it could be dangerous to just read the caption of a story or video, as these can be clickbait and can be sensationalized.

“Being properly informed will give you that sense of empowerment, that reinforcement that you actually have the ability to create the change you want. Not just when you vote on your ballot, but in the daily practice of being involved in the political affairs,” San Pascual said.

Despite actively consuming news on Facebook, survey results showed that the majority of respondents said they still trust traditional or mainstream media when it comes to providing accurate news about politics and politicians.

The study also found that people who depend on random exposure to news on Facebook are more cynical about politics than those who don’t rely on Facebook for news.

The results showed that those who do not rely solely on their Facebook feed for political information believe they have a better understanding of politics.

They said they were also more confident participating in political discussions than those who relied on their Facebook feed for political news and information.

“Those who are not dependent on their Facebook feed for news have a greater variety of news sources for politics, government and governance. They look for news proactively, they don’t just depend on random exposure of news on their Facebook feed [and] they also receive news from other sources. So they are always informed even if they are not exposed to Facebook news,” San Pascual explained.

“Because of this, they tend to feel more confident about engaging politically…compared to those who rely only on incidental exposure to news on Facebook,” she added.

ASoG asked 2,000 respondents in an online survey from October 27 to November 12, 2021 how often they received news from TV, radio, print media, news websites, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The research team is made up of multidisciplinary researchers from the University of the Philippines and ASoG.