Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
It is with this guarded introspection that we react to the reported appointment of media outfits Vera Files and Rappler as “fact checkers” of globally powerful social media platform Facebook.
Statistics point to the social media site to have more than 50 million Filipino followers, making up half the Filipino population.
True enough, as one looks around inside a public bus, chances are half the people looking at their cellphones (which may be 3/4 of all passengers) are on facebook or facebook messenger.
Farmhands and househelp have asked for salary advances to enable them to purchase smarftfones that will allow them to go on -- you guessed it -- facebook.
The ubiquity of this platform is blamed, and credited for so many things but we can all agree that it has allowed a multitude to go online.
Its power lies in its ability to connect us with millions. It is here where its use a political tool has been credited for electoral victories and defeats, its reach known to help sell products and ideas.
Thus, on facebook, all are equal, and are able to access information at their own pace and time. It also has the ability to elicit reactions and therefore, foster participation. This exchange is what enables posts to go viral. Mere “sharing” and “liking” is a political decision in many cases.
But the deeper question at bar is: can Vera Files and Rappler be trusted to “fact-check” your own posts? Both institutions have been known to commit lapses in their own work, and are known for their respective political biases. Likewise, as businesses they do what they do for profit.
There are fears that both institutions may misuse the information for their own ulterior ends. These notions are worth verifying and evaluating in search of answers to the question.
In the end, whether or not Filipinos trust Rappler and Vera Files to fact-check their posts should be up to them, even as it behooves them to appreciate the Latin phrase above by Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–348), literally translated as 'Who will guard the guards?'