By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA — U.S. think tank Pew Research Center on its Mobile Technology and Its Social Impact Survey 2018 released on May 13, revealed Filipinos blocked someone over political views despite being comfortable with discussing politics on social media.

According to the study, 42 percent of Filipino social media users blocked someone over their political views, while 57 percent did not.

The trend is also noticeable in Kenya, with 39 percent of users blocking someone over political views, followed by Lebanon and Vietnam at 37 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

The Philippines also topped 10 other countries in terms of being comfortable with discussing politics both on-line and off-line, with 81 percent of users agreeing.

“The same trend has been recorded in Lebanon, Vietnam, and Kenya, where about 3/4 or more of the respondents said they are willing to talk about politics in person,” the Rappler report said, noting that people who are comfortable talking about politics believe these discussions play a “very important” role in helping them stay informed about politics and other developments in the world.”

“They are also more likely to trust the news and information they get from these face-to-face discussions,” the Pew Research Center noted, with some social media users expressing mixed opinions on the characteristics of the social media environment relative to other information sources.

“We have to understand that there are scores of websites and articles on the internet that are false and inaccurate, purely opinion, or extremely biased or slanted,” an unnamed Filipina quoted by the survey said.

The study, based on face-to-face interviews conducted from September to December 2018 among 28,122 residents across 11 countries with 2,487 Pinoys, also noted that 45 percent of adult mobile phone users in the Philippines are “somewhat comfortable” with engaging in political conversations on-line, while 27 percent are “very comfortable,” 20 percent “not too comfortable” with talking politics on-line and 8 percent “not at all comfortable” with it.

The survey noted people’s comfort levels have “little relationship” with over all measures of civil liberties in the country or measures of how democratic the country is or not.

“And countries with higher levels of inter-personal trust are not more likely to be comfortable discussing politics in any of these venues,” the survey said.

“You know, there’s a politician that sends text messages to us saying ‘Happy birthday, from Senator this-and-that.’ Even with that, they already got your number. What more (do they get)] if you’re already on social media?” an unnamed 44-year-old Filipino quoted by the survey said.

False information
The Pew Research Centre study also noted that at least 68 percent of Filipinos have been exposed to false information on-line, placing the Philippines sixth behind Tunisia with 78 percent, Lebanon with 76 percent, Vietnam with 72 percent, Jordan with 71 percent and South Africa with 69 percent.

In another report by The Philippine Star, senior researcher focusing on global research at Pew Research Center Laura Silver noted the result “highlights the double-edged quality of social media that people in these 11 countries perceive.”

“They see and worry about the baleful effects but can also speak to its benefits. Even those who regularly see false or misleading content are not unambiguously critical of social media,” Silver added, noting those who see false and misleading information view social media more negatively, particularly in dividing people politically and making it easier for politicians to manipulate them.

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