Filipinos turn to social media amid lockdown woes


Filipinos all over the country are feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and they are taking to social media to express their thoughts and emotions.

According to a recent report by Dentsu Aegis Network, there were over 43 million total conversations on social media in the Philippines from March 15-23, the time when the government placed Luzon under enhanced community quarantine.

“Based on our social media audit, the top conversation themes are confusion, political opinion, support for frontliners, coping, distractions, health & wellness, and food,” said Jim Guzman, Network Head of Social for Dentsu Aegis Network and General Manager of D+GILIITY Command Center, in a webinar hosted by M2LIVE titled Social in the Age of Social Distancing.

Guzman was joined by fellow panelists Ace Gapuz (CEO, Blogapalooza), Justin Joyas (Head of Social, GMA News), and moderator Gretchen Ho (TV Host, ABS-CBN).

“Some of the most engaging posts on social during this time are memes. I believe this is a testament to the indestructible Filipino spirit: We use humor to diffuse conflict and survive tough times,” added Guzman.

Over the past few weeks, residents of Metro Manila have been forced to reinvent decades of daily habits due to social distancing protocols. Consequently, most—if not all—social interactions are now taking place online.

Brands and influencers are likewise taking a proactive response to the pandemic on social, with companies like Ligo and thought leaders like Risa Hontiveros garnering the most engaging posts.

According to Gapuz, it has never been a more crucial time for influencers and brands to use their platform to communicate with Filipinos. “They have a very important role to play in society during this time. They are sources of information, inspiration, learning, and entertainment,” she said during the webinar.

Fake news looms

“Fake news has always been here, but this time the stakes are ratcheted up. People’s health and well being are at risk,” said Joyas, who says the current volume of misinformation online has gained unprecedented pace.

To avoid fake news online, he advised readers to: (1) check URLs closely (2) be skeptical of headlines (3) investigate sources (4) watch for unusual site formatting (5) check evidence (6) cross-reference with other reports and (6) inspect posting date.

“During this desperate time, we are hungry for information, but we need to make sure that the information we get is fact-based and correct,” said Joyas.

The New Normal: social from a distance

The coronavirus crisis is reshaping society in profound and lasting ways, from how Filipinos shop and travel, to how they work and play. Some of these changes come with unsettling implications: What will become of malls and restaurants? Will the country remain closed? What happens to the economy?

“There are many questions with few answers available. But one thing’s for certain, for now and until the foreseeable future, the way we communicate and foster relationships with one another will take place online,” said Gapuz.

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