Battling fake news about mining – by Jose Bayani Baylon (Malaya Business Insight – April 9, 2018)

“To many of the millennial generation, the mining industry
is the perfect whipping boy when environmental degradation
is being discussed. It helps that broadcasters on radio and
Tv have access to footages of Irresponsible practices of some
miners, and these are broadcast for millions to see, over
and over again.

It helps too that over the years miners never had a reason
to spend on advertising and talk about their CSR projects –
long before even the phrase “corporate social responsibility”
was even coined.”

OVER the last few months, traditional news and social media have been filled with news reports and commentary on fake news or false news and how it has impacted so many publics worldwide.

It has helped that in the United States there has been consistent focus on allegations that Russian socmed experts have somehow influenced the voting public in a way that helped elect Donald Trump in an upset victory over erstwhile “shoo-in” Hillary Clinton.

The investigation in the US somehow opened a can of worms — or was it Pandora’s Box? — leading to the discovery of a similar effort to influence the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the influence of a company called Cambridge Analytica, and, most recently, apparent links of an arm of this operation into efforts to influence the Philippine elections in 2016.

As a friend lamented recently, “I thought the advent of social media would strengthen democracy and its institutions, but I now have to admit I was wrong.”

Indeed what appears to have become the effect of social media on democracy is the very situation that the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution wished to avoid – the apparent descent of politics to the lowest common denominator, and the degeneration of political discourse from studied debates to demagoguery. Come to think of it even Plato himself seemed to have warned of the “evils” of mass participation in governance.

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