See More on Facebook

Curiosity, Opinion

Fake news and the heart of discourse

A recent panel in Manila questions whether fake news and campaigns of disinformation have destroyed public discourse and changed society for the worse.


Written by

Updated: February 27, 2018

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a panel in the Philippines at the Ateneo de Manila University. The entire two-day event, aptly titled Democracy and Disinformation, was centered around fake news and what institutions of higher learning and consumers can do to filter through and fix the problem.

The problems with fake news have, of course, been widely publicized. Concentrated efforts by local and foreign actors can influence elections, determine public opinion and shape public discourse. That societies from the developed world to the developing world have been so penetrated by social media means that information spreads faster than ever and by extension so does fake news.

While the practical, on-the-ground effects of fake news have been chronicled and investigated, the panel I was on addressed the deeper cultural and political implications of fake news.

Flanked by Brother Armin Luistro of De LaSalle University and Father Jett Villarin of Ateneo de Manila University, the conversation shifted quickly from how universities could do more to combat the spread of fake news to fake news’ effect on the wider public.

As brother Armin said, fake news does not only affect the here and now but affects the way a society processes and comprehends information – adding that he worries about the direction the Philippines is taking under the onslaught of disinformation.

Both men agreed that when the truth is distorted so easily and so often, it gives rise to a society that accepts ‘alternative facts’ and questions are asked of established institutions.

Universities, scientist, medical professionals who normally have an authoritative place in public discourse are now accused of bias and malfeasance. The end result is a society unwilling to accept empirical proof and known facts.

Topics like climate change, vaccinations, death tolls are questioned and vilified by a barrage of disinformation and alternative voices – often with little qualification to weigh in on the discourse.

As Father Jett said, two plus two will always equal four but fake news may make the public question that more than they should.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity, Opinion

The Chinese version

Muhammad Amir Rana asks what is the Chinese version of Islam.  TENSIONS between China and the US have escalated after the House of Representative’s Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, 2019. The move is of a piece with the allegations of many international media and human rights organisations that China is persecuting the Uighur community and violating their rights — allegations that Beijing has denied. Calling the US action a political move aimed at damaging its international image, China says it is running a deradicalisation programme to mainstream its communities. Read: Amid global outcry, China defends internment camps of minorities in Xinjiang The Chinese claim has not been verified by independent sources and mystery shrouds its deradicalisation or re-education programme. China needs to demonstra


By Dawn
December 16, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

Taiwan among top 10 study destinations for U.S. students

Thailand and Singapore among other Asian destinations. China welcomed the highest number of U.S. students last year, followed by Japan and India in second and third places, respectively, according to a recent survey about exchange students in Asia. South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia rounded up the top 10 list of the most popular Asian countries among U.S. students. According to AsiaExchange, “The high level of education, low exposure to crime, economic freedom and good healthcare system are a few examples of why Taiwan is ranked 2nd on the annual Global Peace Index.” It’s also very safe to live in Taiwan, as crime rates are low, the Website stressed, noting that Taiwan’s focus on human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech has made it a top destination for education. Taiwan, whose institutions are strong and reliable, has remained la


By Cod Satrusayang
December 12, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

No safe spaces for women in Pakistan

Rafia Zakaria writes for Dawn. THAT crime lurks in the streets and corners of Karachi is not news for anyone. Precariousness and predation are the mainstay in this southern corner of the land of the pure; if you have something you are hunted and if you have nothing, you hunt. Destiny damns both, the hunters and the hunted, enacting a dystopian version of The Walking Dead, every day and every night. Karachi is, after all, judged as one of the world’s cities that are least liveable. The scars of it all are visible everywhere, on the bodies and faces of its people, on the hospitals that do not care, and the police that do not protect. This time, the dark forces that breed within the city came for a young girl. According to news reports, 20-year-old Dua Nisar Mangi was ‘committing the crime’ of walking down a city street. This was over the weekend past, and with her was a friend named Haris. It was not suppo


By Dawn
December 5, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

American killer

Staying away from an American policy that does not value brown and black people. CHIEF Special Warfare Operator Edward ‘Eddie’ Gallagher is a man of many sins. According to military prosecutors in the United States, Gallagher is responsible for brutally stabbing and murdering a teenage so-called Islamic State (IS) fighter, using his sniper rifle on ordinary Iraqi citizens, and boasting about racking up his ‘kills’ to others. To top it all off, Gallagher is also guilty of taking a triumphant photo of himself with the young IS fighter that he killed. Gallagher was tried and convicted by a military court earlier this year, and was to be deprived of his rank and booted out of the US Navy SEALs. President Donald Trump could not tolerate this. Despite having been told by top military and defence officials that he should leave the issue alone and allow the navy to handle what happened to Gallagher, he


By Dawn
November 28, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting

The government’s hosting of the event has so far been disastrous. Private companies and well-meaning individuals are stepping up to help the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games football tournaments. Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said Southridge School in Alabang has offered its artificial pitch as one of the practice venues for the tournaments, while Vallacar Transit, which owns the Ceres Bus line, has provided 18 of its newest buses to transport teams to their matches. Vallacar is headed by Leo Rey Yanson, who is also the owner of the country’s top football club, Ceres-Negros. Ceres buses were also used by organizers the last time the country hosted the tournament in 2005, following complaints with the vehicle being used by the teams. The 18 buses are intended for the 11 men’s teams and six women’s squads with one spare bus in case


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 27, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

Nepal hasn’t been able to adapt to a changing world

Think tanks can play a significant role in helping countries like Nepal deal with the changes. Last week, more than a hundred think tanks came together in Bangkok to discuss how they can help manage the transition amidst trade wars and the shrinking of space for open dialogues and discourses. The Asia Pacific Think Tank Summit was organised by the United Nations ESCAP and the University of Pennsylvania. While the world has progressed and is discussing pertinent issues, back home in Nepal, we continue to be preoccupied with mundane issues like the health of the prime minister, parties and lawyers busy protecting criminals and, of course, politicians making sure they do not lose control of universities. No one, whether in government or heading institutions, has a vision as to how the country or their respective organisation will look like in 2030. It seems that the only way of thinking pr


By The Kathmandu Post
November 19, 2019