Time for Globe and Smart to stop giving Filipinos unlimited Facebook access

It’s time. Many Filipinos and their “thought leaders” have been criticising the role social media giant Facebook had supposedly been playing in skewing political chatter. Many argue that it had become a platform for “disinformation” and “fake news”. More importantly — in particular, to the oligarchs who are losing money in their once-profitable media businesses — Facebook is eroding the erstwhile command over the discourse enjoyed by traditional news media operations.

Not surprisingly, no less than the Inquirer editor himself calls Facebook a “problematic platform” citing how “free FB is the only internet for millions of people” in the Philippines and, as such, affords it disturbingly disproportionate control over voter sentiment.

It is becoming more evident that Facebook poses an existential threat to democracy and the free market in light of the power it wields over how human individuals think and over how they might move collectively. In his open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Aaron Sorkin, author of The Social Network, points out…

Don’t say Larry Flynt. Not even Larry Flynt would say Larry Flynt. This isn’t the same as pornography, which people don’t rely upon for information. Last year, over 40 percent of Americans said they got news from Facebook. Of course the problem could be solved by those people going to a different news source, or you could decide to make Facebook a reliable source of public information.

Indeed, Americans can’t get off Facebook. Filipinos, on the other hand, won’t. Big difference right there. Access to the Internet may (arguably) be a right. But access to Facebook specifically? That’s like making drinking Coca Cola a human right and expecting water to compete with it as a means of hydration.

It is therefore clear that Philippine telcos like Globe and Smart are part of the problem. By giving unfair advantage to a private enterprise on what, in essence, is a utility service, these businesses are contributing to propagating what is now considered to be a growing threat to democracy itself.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Facebook. What is wrong is the privilege it is given by service providers like Philippine telco giants like Globe and Smart to get into people’s heads.

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4 Comments on “Time for Globe and Smart to stop giving Filipinos unlimited Facebook access”

  1. FaceBook is a business; as long as it is making profit…it will never stop. There is a complaint from the conservative side in the political spectrum. That FaceBook is giving much advantage to the Liberal political platform (not the Liberal Party)…

    The mainstream Media was the source of Fake News, and political propaganda machine of the Aquino Cojuangco political axis, during the Aquino era…they dumb down Filipinos with EDSA heroism and Cory Aquino’s sainthood. The Roman Catholic Church, was part of this propaganda machine, that dumb down further Filipinos.

    When the Information Technology came to the Philippines. There came the so called : Social Media. It leveled the “playing field’ in the political discussions. The mainstream media no longer monopolized the news and political discussions.

    I don’t think FaceBook can monopolize the social media. Facebook is just one of the social medias…And there are other internet providers , other than Smart and Globe. …There is even a satellite disc internet network provider . You can have internet , even in far flung remote areas. It does not need wiring !

  2. Very appropriate comparison with Coke there. Filipinos seem to delight in making choices that will cause harm to themselves, and they seem to do it because the bad choices are artificially cheap.

    Junk food is heavily subsidized in the Philippines (that is, the manufacturers sell it at low cost and make up the low margins from rich-country profits … simply to achieve market penetration). The “free Facebook” thing seems to be similar. I’m assuming Facebook pay Globe and Smart at least some of the cost of the bandwidth that they give away?

    I’d say that Facebook is not so much a threat to democracy as it is a threat to rational thought. It rots your brain, just like shabu or Coca-Cola. Since Filipinos don’t have a whole lot of brainpower to start with, this is a disaster in all sorts of ways, not just governance.

  3. I’m the same manner that democracy exhibited to the world leaders that reflect their constituents’ collective character, social media exposed to the world a disturbing human condition — that we’d rather immerse ourselves in fantasy than embrace reality.

  4. LOL. As a Fil-Am, I got off FB years ago because they are biased politically and they creep me out with their snitching. Same with YouTube and a lot of these liberal Bay Area companies. And I can’t stand Zuckerberg (i.e stealing FB from his college partners, Hawaiians don’t like him, big brotherism, and naming a hospital in San Francisco after him…the ego). Maybe because the Philippines is thousands of miles away from the Bay Area and FB headquarters that people in the Pinas have no idea why a lot of Americans are ditching FB. FB is going to end up like Myspace and Friendster one day. I delete/disable anything FB in my phone or try too.

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