The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) advised the public and the youth on Wednesday to report false information that they encounter in social media platforms and refrain from sharing it to counter misinformation and disinformation in addition to adopting STOP and SPOT approach in responsible information consumption.

“And when you do realize that you have come across false information, report it, don’t share it. The spread of misinformation and disinformation ends with you. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the truth in an age where falsehoods threaten to obscure it,” PCO Undersecretary Emerald Ridao said during the “Maging Mapanuri” Conference on Media and Information Literacy at the New World Hotel in Makati City.

“As we unite in our unwavering commitment to the truth, we will conquer what was once a daunting monster of misinformation. Together, we shall forge a future where the pursuit of truth stands above all else,” Ridao said.

The PCO official also issued a practical guide for the public to adopt STOP and SPOT approach to counter misinformation and disinformation, as the agency focuses on educating the public, rather than policing, to address the misinformation crisis.

Ridao advised the public to remember the STOP and SPOT approach as a practical guide when they stumble upon information that they are not quite fully knowledgeable about.

“Stop to Spot the Source. Ask yourself, who is sharing this information? Are these posts and articles from random people on the internet, or are they from certified experts on the subject matter? Remember that the source matters. Credible, verified sources are more likely to provide accurate information,” Ridao advised conference participants.

“Stop to Spot the Purpose. Why is this information appearing on your feed? Is it trending because it’s sensationalizing certain angles, or is it genuinely sharing factual information? Understanding the purpose behind the content can help you separate fact from fiction.”

Ridao also told the conference participants to trace the ownership of the information and content, whether they are shared by credible organizations or individuals genuinely committed to truth, or they are pretending to be something they are not.

People should also Stop to Spot the Time by scrutinizing the timeline of the information release, whether it is new, old, or possibly outdated and irrelevant information disguised as news, she said.

According to Ridao, policing the internet and stamping out every falsehood would be a never-ending battle which is why the PCO relies on education to address the challenge.

Seeing the youth’s hunger for knowledge, boundless curiosity, and willingness to become responsible citizens, Ridao said that the PCO has turned its attention to the untapped potential of the young people.

Partnering with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is the right approach because educating the next generation was the way forward, Ridao said, as she recognized the critical role teachers and educators.

For her part, PCO Assistant Secretary Patricia Martin said she anticipates Wednesday’s discussions to equip participants with the tools, knowledge, and strategies needed to combat misinformation and disinformation effectively. 

“Moreover, we hope that, in the midst of these enlightening conversations, you will also find enjoyment in the camaraderie of like-minded individuals who share the same dedication to truth and accuracy,” Martin said.

The PCO sees the “Maging Mapanuri” conference not just a simple gathering but a movement, considered as a necessary paradigm shift – a change in everyone’s mentality to fight misinformation and disinformation together. 

The PCO launched its Media and Information Literacy (MIL) campaign last August 14, 2023, with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as its key partners in the public sector. 

The initiative primarily targets equipping teachers in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and public schools to teach students how to combat fake news, misinformation and disinformation.
 The agency is also collaborating with tech companies such as Google (YouTube), Meta (Facebook, Instagram, and Threads), TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter) in the project implementation.  | PND