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

OPINION: What Asia’s election season tells us

Elections have wrapped up from Pakistan to the Philippines. In the first half of this year, four Asian giants went to the polls. Up to one billion voters were involved, all within a few weeks of one another. Team Ceritalah was on the ground in Thailand, Philippines, India and Indonesia. In Eluru in April, some two hours northeast of Amravati, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, we discovered a city pulsating with people. It was also mind-blowingly hot: some 42 degrees with music blaring out of loudspeakers as crowds waited for a candidate’s arrival. By contrast, when Team Ceritalah were in the Thai city of Phitsanulok in February, the mood was subdued and calm. Most people knew who they’d be voting for. Besides, everyone understood that the polls were a farce Back in April and just a handful of days before voting, Team Ceritalah also joined the hordes at Jakarta’s main stadium – Gelora


By The Star
June 19, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

Pakistan’s healthcare system is not ready for coming epidemics

Naseem Salahuddin, an infectious disease specialist, looks at the bigger picture in Pakistan. THE Larkana HIV outbreak has opened up a can of worms throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan, exposing our feeble healthcare system — of which infectious diseases (IDs) comes into sharp focus. I do not recommend the following exposé be read by the faint-hearted, nor by those in positions of decision-making who have only observed health inequities from the comfort of their offices. It might hurt their sensibilities. A snapshot of a day in the ID department of the Indus Hospital, Karachi, will give the reader stomach-churning insights into the lives of the poor and sick. In the TB clinic, over 200 patients are waiting to be diagnosed or receive their free medicines, a third of whom have drug-resistant TB. One is a woman with both lungs destroyed by the most drug-resistant form of TB, pregnant for the n


By Dawn
June 11, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

Investors still have confidence in China’s economy

An op-ed from China Daily arguing that the trade war has not dampened the country’s economic prospect. Wealthy Chinese and other Asian investors are near the top of the league tables for economic optimism worldwide. That makes sense because growth in Asia has outpaced that in the rest of the world for the past 20 years. But it does seem to overlook the intensifying US-China trade dispute, which has weighed on markets and economic activity and which ranks as the top worry for the same wealthy Asian investors who participated in a new UBS study. At first glance, it also flies in the face of the fact that wealthy Asian investors are holding large sums of their portfolios in cash, a clear sign they’d keep what they’ve got rather than put it to work-and at risk. What explains this possible contradiction? On second glance, the investors surveyed in the UBS Investor Sentiment report di


By China Daily
June 10, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

Wakayama temple introduces cashless payment option

It is believed to be a first among temples in Japan. A temple in Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture, recently launched a system allowing visitors to make offerings of money using cashless payment apps on their smartphones. Kokawadera temple — No. 3 on the 33-temple Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage route, spanning the Kinki region and Gifu Prefecture — introduced the system in response to the growing popularity of cashless payment services among young people and foreign tourists. Visitors simply scan QR codes displayed on offertory boxes and choose the amount of money they want to give. According to a temple official, the system was introduced in mid-March after a young temple visitor asked if it was possible to pay for an omamori amulet using a smartphone. In addition to offering money, visitors can also pay for amulets using their smartphones.


By The Japan News
June 10, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

Democratic Indonesia exemplifies truly Asia

An op-ed from Niruban Balachandran in the Jakarta Post. On a warm day in 1951, my grandfather and his family landed at the old Jakarta Kemayoran Airport to begin his diplomatic service for five years at the Ceylon (as it then was, now Sri Lanka) Embassy in Indonesia. “It was one of the most joyful times of my life,” he used to tell me when I was a child. “The Indonesian people were so friendly.” With the diplomatic rank of chancellor, during the Sukarno era my grandfather studied the Indonesian language and forged strong relationships between Sri Lankan and Indonesian officials. He enrolled my mother and uncles in the new Jakarta Intercultural School, opening with a dozen students. After my grandfather retired from the Sri Lanka Overseas Service, he still embodied the qualities of excellence, public service, dignity and honor that still inspire me today. As an American of Sri Lankan descent gro


By The Jakarta Post
June 7, 2019

Curiosity, Opinion

There is a cancer inside Thai democracy, and it isn’t the military

Despite numerous coups and seizures of powers, the military is not the real cancer inside Thai democracy. General Prayuth Chan-ocha was elected by Thailand’s parliament on Wednesday to continue serving as prime minister. Five years after he took power by launching a coup against a democratically elected government, Prayuth was confirmed by a mostly democratically elected parliament. It did not hurt Prayuth’s chances that he had 250 appointed members of the senate voting in his favor. The senators were all appointed by the junta, under provisions in the constitution that the junta had drafted, and voted unanimously as a bloc to make Prayuth the prime minister. It is little wonder then that Thais are up in arms about the whole affair. Many have taken to social media with the hashtag #RIPThailand and #PrayforThailand. Others posting on social media have accused the military of unfair play and setting b


By Cod Satrusayang
June 6, 2019