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Be online savvy


A compilation of current and previously published reports on social media and Internet-user statistics reveals the following:

  • Facebook: As of August 2010, 16.2 million Filipinos are users of Facebook, representing a 16.3% penetration rate. (We are a nation of close to 100 million people). This makes the country among the Top 10 Facebook users in the world. Among countries on this list, only two other countries in Asia—the densely populated Indonesia and India join the Philippines.
  • Twitter: In February 2010, according to comScore Inc., the Philippines was the sixth top user of Twitter. Across Asian markets, the country “showed the highest penetration of social networking usage with more than 90% of its entire Web population visiting a social networking site during the month, followed by Australia (89.6% penetration) and Indonesia (88.6% penetration).” The conservative figures cover only users who visit such sites from home or work places.
  • Social networking sites: The Philippines also showed “the highest level of engagement on social networking sites,” with users aged at least 15, spending an average of 5.5 hours in these sites last February. During the same month, each Filipino site visitor frequented a social networking site about 26 times, according to comScore.
  • Assistant Secretary Mai Mislang, shown here performing as the lead singer of The Blue Rats, a blues band. (Photo by Bob Guerrero)

    Texting: The Geneva-based United Nations agency, International Telecommunication Union, said that together with the United States, the Philippines accounted for 35% of all text or SMS messages sent in 2009.

  • Internet users: According to Nielsen, as of June 2010, there are 29.7 million Internet users in the country, representing a penetration rate of close to 30%.
  • Tops in the region: In Asia, according to Internet World Stats, Filipinos constitute 3.6% of Internet users, at par with Indonesia, which has a population of about 243 million. In 2009, in terms of Internet use, the country ranked sixth among the Top 10 countries in Asia after China, Japan, India, South Korea, and Indonesia.

What do all these figures mean? We certainly have a very strong online and global presence. Because Filipinos at least aged 15 are all over the online world, anyone who posts anything remotely related or relevant to Philippine issues and concerns is guaranteed to have an audience.

Depending on what is posted, that audience can be compassionate and responsive—as was seen in calls for help during Typhoon Ondoy, for example. Or that audience can be harsh, severe, and unforgiving—as was seen in the recent Mai Mislang and Ricky Carandang mis-tweeting incident. The Internet and social media sites are obviously a potent tool for communication and mobilization, in the same way that they can be potentially damaging to privacy, reputation, and image.

Sec. Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Group

Certainly, there is a voyeur that resides in each one of us and this explains the existence of cautious lurkers who read posts, check out album photos and videos, but do not post or share anything. Likewise, there are exhibitionists who post anything and everything about themselves. And then there are the in-betweens who simply want to reach out to friends, family, and even strangers, taking advantage of the convenience that social networking sites offer.

The online medium is a playground for any one who dares access it. Anyone who is foolish, reckless, and careless is bound to get it. Post anything incendiary, stupid, or insensitive and you’re sure to feel the wrath and fury of the online world. It’s like having a roomful of obsessive-compulsive editors with their threatening red pens descending upon you. Post anything that strikes a chord somewhere and you’re also sure to get public sympathy and approval.

Close to six months since Noynoy Aquino and his team took over the reins of power, we are told that it hasn’t quite sunk in with them that they are now government officials and no longer ordinary people. Twitter founders Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, as well as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, could have saved them some trouble if only they had included this detail in account profiles: public or private individual?

After the fact, Carandang could have tweeted: tweets suspended, pending guidelines issuance. I would have tweeted back: reactionary; not anticipatory. Newsbreak, independent journalism from the Philippines

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