So Mocha Uson plans to return her “Thomasian Alumni Award for Government Service” and University of Santo Tomas (UST) Alumni Association president Henry Tenedero has resigned following unfavourable “Netizens’ reactions”. Both are responses to the “public backlash” resulting from the latter granting this award to the earlier.
Presumably, the so-called negative “Netizens’ reactions” is representative of the general public sentiment. The question is, is this foregone (due to popular sentiment) conclusion that these “Netizens’ reactions” are, indeed, representative of how Filipinos feel about Uson’s award supportable by statistical evidence?
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“Netizens’ reactions” have long been used by quack social media “influencers” as quack evidence of the validity of what they assert. Online “activist” Noemi Dado, for example, in a recent tweet pompously proclaims “Bongbong Marcos waxes Orwellian, demands for ‘damn’ recount; netizens react”, as if to say that her sample of “Netizens’ reactions” provides sound enough basis for concluding that Filipinos are generally outraged over this statement.
Another example is “social news network” Rappler, the group of social media “influencers” posing as a “news” organisation. Rappler publishes many “news reports” that are nothing more than cherry-picked compilations of “Netizens’ reactions” — quotes from tweets and Facebook posts cobbled together into a “story”. That’s not journalism and certainly not news reporting in the real sense. Whilst bozos like Dado can get away with pitching “Netizens’ reactions” as bases for establishing “fact”, there are more rigorous standards involved in establishing fact in the news media practice.
Citing “Netizens’ reactions” suggests possible fact. But these are inconclusive at best. Of true news reporting and real journalism, the public demands objective fact based on sound bases. It is quite ironic that those who brand themselves as the Joans of Arc in a “war” against “fake news” are, themselves, the most consistent users of quack methods — like “Netizens’ reactions” — to validate their assertions. It’s high time this practice of citing “Netizens’ reactions” be put under more critical scrutiny. For that matter, the practice of using “Netizens’ reactions” to form the bulk of an article classified as a “news report” should be completely eradicated from the news media industry.
For a sample of reactions to be truly representative of a population‘s sentiment, there are statistical methods and tools that need to be applied to establish a quantitative degree of confidence in any conclusions derived from said sample. “Netizens’ reactions” is a good source of data for a proper analytics effort to churn out insightful information (Google and Facebook use these all the time). But analytics is a science. Dado and the girlettes of Rappler have so far not exhibited any sort of scientific inclination and have, instead, exhibited more of the screeching fits that make them look more like shills than true reliable purveyors of useful insight into the Philippine condition.
It is a shame that Uson and Tenedero “rectified” things solely on the bases of those “Netizens’ reactions” peddled as indicators of public sentiment by the quackery of Dado and the Rapplerettes led by their CEO Maria Ressa. We can only know whether that quackery represents actual fact only by applying critical thinking at the very least; statistical rigour at best to the dubious sampling method of compiling “Netizens’ reactions”. “Fake news” sites aren’t the real problem. It is people and organisations like Dado and Rappler who merely pretend to produce “real news” that are the bigger problems Filipinos need to deal with.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.