Social media: force for nation-building

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler held its Social Good Summit last weekend to answer the question: How can social media drive social change? Paterno Esmaquel reports.

How can social media be a force for nation-building? 

Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez says it can spread good feelings about the country. At the Social Good Summit, Jimenez says the social media campaign "It's More Fun in the Philippines" achieves this.

MON JIMENEZ, TOURISM SECRETARY: Very often, I tell people that the Filipino thrives in an atmosphere of encouragement. “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” is proof positive of that. We are tired of discouragement. We are tired of the notion that the truth is hard to take. The truth about the truth is that it is equal times good as it is bad. Encouragement, therefore, especially in social media, is good news put to good use.

Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang says social media provides the government a direct line to their constituents.

Carandang recalls an instance when he had to tell the public about an erroneous report made by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on his supposed joke on the Freedom of Information Bill. He says he repeatedly tweeted about the mistake until the PCIJ apologized for it.

RICKY CARANDANG, COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY: There are times when you want to hear from us directly… It allows us to reach the public directly, without the filter of media.

Private individuals, on the other hand, see social media as a means to praise and criticize their government.

Blogwatch contributor Jane Uymatiao says a good example is the campaign to shame epals, or politicians who use public funds to publicize their achievements. She sees social media's potential to change the Philippines.

JANE UYMATIAO, BLOGWATCH CONTRIBUTOR: If we use it responsibly, it will be a powerful tool to change for the social good... The tweet is mightier than the sword.

But netizens agree there is a need to avoid overstepping boundaries. Celebrity Twitter user Bianca Gonzalez shares some of her personal rules when engaging people on Twitter.

BIANCA GONZALEZ, CELEBRITY: Post online what you can say in real life... Be the Twitter user you'd want to follow.

Netizens agree they wield power through Facebook and Twitter. The key is to wield this political medium with tolerance and respect.

Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila