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Google Has A New Weapon in the War Against Misinformation

It will target poor communities in the Philippines.
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The world is besieged by a captivating enemy: lies. Every day, millions of people fall victim to falsehoods purporting to be truths. Misinformation is a formidable enemy. It catapulted dictators and despots into power, and it goes by many names: alternative fact, post-truth, opinion

Many people look up to Google as the most reliable conduit of information, which is why the tech giant has launched a tool that seeks to arm people with the right mindset to discern misinformation from facts.

Google partnered with Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) to launch #YOUTHink, a local magazine that aims to help in the quest of ending misinformation through media literacy education.

Google provided funding support for the development, design, and publication of the magazine which is being initially distributed for free to 5,000 youths in disadvantaged communities all over the Philippines.

A Tool to Enhance Critical Thinking Among the Youth

The tech company conceived the title of the magazine to put emphasis on two elements: “youth” which is a vital force in addressing misinformation, and “critical thinking” which is necessary to exercise before believing, posting, or sharing any information online. 

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“We are hard at work to connect people to trusted information and reduce the spread of harmful content by constantly updating our policies and product features. As a result, from February to September 2020 alone, over 200,000 videos were removed on YouTube because they contain dangerous or misleading information about COVID-19,” aid Yves Gonzalez, head of government affairs and public policy for Google Philippines.

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“We believe that addressing misinformation is an ecosystem effort and founded on education, that is why we partnered with CANVAS to publish a material that can help tackle the issue and promote critical thinking.” 

Filled with data and case studies, the 42-page magazine comes in a creative zine-style format for young readers. It covers several topics such as the types of misinformation and their negative effects, why context matters, how to identify a fact from an opinion, and how to avoid falling for fake information.

Experts as Contributing Writers

Contributing writers include the following: former COMELEC Commissioner Atty. Luie Guia; infectious diseases specialist Dr. Edsel Salvana; scientist and radio and TV speaker Dr. Reina Reyes; Ateneo de Manila University assistant professor of Philosophy Dr. Jacklyn Cleofas; and UP professor specializing in research on political communication and news media effects Dr. Clarissa David.

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CANVAS founder and executive director Gigo Alampay shared the importance of youth-oriented informative materials like #YOUTHink in the time of COVID-19. 

“#YOUTHink is important especially in the middle of a pandemic because we need to be connected to credible information to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe,” said Alampay. “The magazine can help in educating people how to spot real from fake information. Now more than ever, we need the power of the youth to uphold digital responsibility and critical thinking which is crucial in addressing the infodemic.” 

For every acquisition of the magazine, CANVAS will donate two books to children from the poor and disadvantaged communities in the Philippines through the One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children Campaign.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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