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Why the ‘coastal clean-up’ craze is good

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#MINDANAO

By JOHN TRIA

John Tria

John Tria

Happy Earth Day everyone! Perhaps no image has inspired us more about the environment than that of a “cleaner” Boracay Beach and Manila Bay. We’ve seen it all on social media and are inspired by it.

Yet the long-term effect of these clean-up activities in various cities like Cebu, Davao, Samar force us to go beyond our politics.

While these may not titillate the chattering elites who consider them work for the hoi polloi, they bring the rest of the country together in an action meant  not only to beautify tourist spots and bring more visitors and revenue, but more importantly, preserve water resources we may need to tap in the future to fill our own needs.

This is especially true now that a bigger number of Filipinos lives in urban areas.

Some of us recall former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s dogged effort to clean the Singapore river. Looking back, it marshalled a national effort and helped protect Singapore’s future, since clean rivers, coasts, and catchment areas now form part of the city state’s water sources.

Investing in clean-up efforts now will secure the water of our cities.

Questions for Facebook (FB)

Curiously, Facebook’s announcement that it shut down the account of an individual it believes is behind fake news for “coordinated, inauthentic behavior” is surprising, and raises vital questions.

The publicly listed Menlo Park, California, company claims 2.5 billion monthly active users worldwide. Half our own country’s 105-million population log on to FB for news and communication, getting them engaged in a way that they were never able to before.

Facebook thrives by expanding networks of communication that become platforms of shared content.  When people talk about it together, it becomes a group, expanding when they invite others to join. Facebook thus became a venue for “coordinated behavior” that links families and classmates, organizes enterprises, and causes.

The resulting size of these interactions grew larger than that of many mainstream media publications, fertile ground for advertising and revenue for it to promote your posts on its wide platform.

Being from Mindanao, social media and the connectivity it brings is a bridge to trade contacts that help facilitate business to business dealings, allowing the island’s businesses to link up for trade, and achieve success despite being outside the influence corridors of Manila’s business circles, which were once the sole gateway for business.

That said, Facebook has become part of the daily life of many Pinoys.

Thus, the announcements by Facebook to close the accounts of certain people it says committed “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in the United states, Iran, and even here in the person of former media executive Nic Gabunada raises i believe should be answered.

Many of us reading this column are FB account holders and join pages and groups within the network aligned with our desires and causes. How was FB able to determine and link those supposedly inappropriate pages to your account? How do we know if our “coordinated behavior” is “inauthentic” in their eyes?

Likewise,  in calling a press briefing to announce the results of an investigation into your account, will you be informed that such a briefing would take place and that you will be publicly named? Can and will the same thing happen to us?

Therefore, the decision to close a person’s account and publicly announce it needs to be explained, or justified more carefully.

Facebook ought to be able to say that it is fair to its account holders and subscribers, and will not engage official actions against account holders without their consent or at the very least, prior notice, a part of due process.

Otherwise, you as a user may be linked to inappropriate behavior without your knowledge.

After all, the good Facebook has brought us grew partly on the basis of coordinated behavior, being a social network. it would not be good for confidence in FB to erode.

For reactions: facebook.com/johntriapage

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