By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Hear ye, hear ye, Mark Zuckerberg.
A Filipino-American CEO of a non-profit organization Womensphere has a strong message to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg. Analisa Balares said that Facebook and all other social media platforms needed to develop a tool to determine fake news content. She also added that social media platforms must ban publishers of fake news and asked readers to use their critical thinking instead of accepting news at face value.
Balares, who founded Womensphere in 2007, emphasized that Facebook and Google need to create tools that determine the veracity of shared information, in the wake of massive disinformation through the digital highway.
Womensphere is a global platform for women and girls founded in 2007 that harness their leadership qualities and community projects through training and networking in the field of science, culture, arts, and politics.
Balares just recently concluded a digital technology conference at the Philippine Center on 5th Avenue for Filipino leaders of the online businesses and organizations.
In 2016, she was an outstanding woman leader awardee of the Philippine Consulate General in New York for her achievements in the field of science and math, in time for the commemoration of the International Women’s Day. She was named by NASA as a Data Naut, or an expert in the art of coding. Balares worked as global marketing manager at Microsoft and director at Milestone Capital.
A native of Leyte in the Philippines, Balares graduated from the Manila Science High School, the Philippines’ premier science and technology institution. She was a scholar at the Lester Pearson United World in Canada and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and has an MBA from Harvard Business School and certificate in digital film-making from the New York Film Academy.
Excerpts of our interview:
1. How can people learn to filter fake news?
People need to use common sense and critical thinking to question what they see and hear about. Instead of jumping into conclusions or assumptions when they see outrageous news, controversial news that defames someone, or news in general, people need to have the curiosity to not accept what they see at face value, and to always be questioning whether what they are seeing or reading about is true or not.
In addition, people need to learn to research. Technology makes it easy to run a search on a topic and see if it’s true or not, or what the various sides and positions are. And there are sites, like Snopes, that help reveal hoaxes too.
2. Social media platforms have a huge responsibility in allowing or disallowing fake news and information. How will they know what is bogus and what is real? How should they ‘police’ themselves? What parameters to take?
Social media platforms need to take greater responsibility because they are not just platforms or online software – they are publishers too. And because they enable self-publishing of millions to billions of content creators (users of their platform), they need to take some degree of responsibility for what gets posted.
These platforms need to have tools that enable them – and enable users – to identify whether content is fake or whether something comes from a credible sources or an unidentified source. I would argue that for content that is consistently untrue and fake – the publishers of such content should be banned from the platform. This will provide a deterrent to creators and promoters of fake news and those who are spreading untruths. There are also various laws against defamation, and those who publish and spread fake news should be subject to these laws.