By Zsarlene B. Chua
SOCIAL MEDIA giant Facebook has brought to the Philippines a localized version of its global literacy program We Think Digital, aiming to conduct online and in-person training sessions for a million Filipino netizens by end-2020 to “develop skills that enable Filipinos to create a positive and safe culture online.”
“Digital Tayo is our effort to localize We Think Digital to ensure that it is in the context of the Philippine digital landscape,” Claire G. Amador, public policy head for the Philippines at Facebook, said in her speech during the program’s launch on April 23 at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Hotel in Quezon City.
We Think Digital was first launched in Singapore in March, followed by Argentina, and is scheduled to be rolled out in other Asia Pacific countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan within the year.
“We also plan to bring this program beyond Asia Pacific to Mexico [among other countries],” Clair Deevy, Facebook’s Director of Community Affairs for the APAC Region noted in a March 4 post in the company’s newsroom.
The program initially aimed to reach a million citizens across worldwide but Ms. Deevy said during the April 23 event that Filipinos are so connected on social media that they decided to bump the goal to reach one million Filipinos by 2020.
“That means we can double our goal,” Ms. Deevy said, adding that the Philippines will be the program’s biggest market.
According to the 2019 Global Digital Report by We Are Social, Filipinos spend ten hours online every day on average. They are also the heaviest users of social media, spending four hours and 12 minutes daily compared to the worldwide average of two hours and 16 minutes.
“This is a country which is number one for Facebook because of how much time people spend on Facebook,” Simon Milner, Vice President for Public Policy APAC, said during his speech closing the event.
The Digital Tayo program partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and other civil society partners.
Each partner will focus on a specific target market and will teach the said markets using materials provided by the program.
Results of the program will be measured via pre- and post-tests.
OWWA piloted the program in July last year focusing on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
The program includes four modules said to be “designed to equip people with skills, including the ability to think critically about what they see online, how to communicate respectfully and engage in digital discourse,” according to a press release.
“There’s actually many audiences in the Philippines…[who do] not having critical thinking skills, not understanding what they’re reading online,” Ms. Deevy said in a press conference after the event.
She added that while there’s no one solution to the problems relating to issues in social media usage, she believes “education is a long-term solution…in creating responsible digital citizens.”
Topics include privacy, safety, security, digital discourse and digital footprint.
Each module will take about 30 to 45 minutes to go through and made “as simple and as fun for people,” said Ms. Deevy.
In a 2019 YouGov survey commissioned by Facebook, 58% of Filipino respondents said they were willing to listen and try to understand other people’s viewpoints in face-to-face conversations but only 37% said they’ll do the same in online arguments.
The study also showed 93% of respondents said they verify articles they come across.
Responding to hate speech, the same study showed 40% of respondents said they ignored it while 28% reported said speech to social networks.
“The numbers show us that we are very much engaged in the internet. They also show us that there’s a lot that needs to be done — there’s space to keep developing empathy…because in the end, who we are online is who we are offline,” Ms. Amador said.
The Digital Tayo materials and other program information can be accessed via digitaltayo.fb.com.