When viral videos go viral

Time saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy

A video titled “Aquino Cojuanco: Facts they don’t want you to know HD” is being circulated across social networks and social media. It has sparked debate of all sorts. The number of permutations the discussion has raged in is many. An example discussion starts with a line of thinking that says: “History is written by the victors”. On the other hand, Marck says, and I agree with him in “Truth is the (Im)Balance” that “History comes with its responsibilities: rigor, truth, dedication, conviction, openness. If we do not have the best idea of how it got this way, we’ll never find a way out of the quandary. Which brings even bigger ironies to light: that ‘we who know better,’ when presented with, and subscribe to bad history, may not know at all”.

On another angle, Blogwatch republished Michael Charleson (Xiao Chua) Briones Chua’s Facebook note. Chua added comment to the video. For example, on the matter about Hacienda Luisita Massacre of 2004, Chua writes, “It’s easy to make speculations on the cases of the killings in Tarlac, I don’t have the documents, I rather have the courts decide on it but I myself have a reservation on our criminal justice system. As a historian, my opinion on this matter must be based on facts.”

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte remarked, responding to the video. “Mahirap ho iyong ganong kunwari history based on events but mayroon na hong mga implied conclusion.”

@momblogger quoted a number of twitters via storified like these for example.

Russell Caballero on his twitter writes, “Wow! This really bothered me!!! / AQUINO COJUANGCO: FACTS THEY DONT WANT YOU TO KNOW HD http://t.co/ufhmpllC via @youtube.

Then there was bern who wrote, “finished watchng d 15min docu of aquino-cojuangco…grabe sila! ayaw p ipamigay ang hacienda luisita!”

“kinilabutan ako ng sobra”, @marianne tweeted after watching the video.

One thing is certain, the makers of this video ought to be happy. They have achieved their 15 minutes of fame. They have duped and prodded people to view their video.

The video is an example of flash over substance. It passes itself with a veneer of being “intelligent”, and “smart” but when you dig deeper, what it does is to innocently suggest that it is “fact”, but cherry picks history to fit a worldview like some terrible version of the Reality Distortion Field. The style is common enough, and reminiscent of the style of antipinoys. It amazed me that something like this has gone far as it has, but I really shouldn’t right?

Philippine media do this all the time with their “expose”, but is made so that it draws conclusions for the reader. Pieces like mining for instance talks about the environmental dangers, but rarely explain where minerals go to— modern electronics, or how much mining adds to an economy. Rarely do we hear if laws are being broken or if there was some way to balance the economic and the environment. It concludes for you that it is wrong, without question. It speaks from the same well that people use to question whether Man indeed landed on the moon.

Going back to the video, it offers nothing new, just a reinterpretation of events to fit a certain worldview. It was made so that it draws conclusions for you. Like every conspiracy theory that has been told, or fortune teller tale and every other hocus, the video appeals of course to a spectrum of people who like this because it subscribes to their worldview, and validates it. Then there are those who wouldn’t be reading any history books, or dig deeper into the details, but would take this video as “fact” like people who say the RH Bill is wrong without having read the proposed measure. The video looks and sounds like a documentary, so it should be right?

Everything on the Internet is credible, right?

At the D8 conference, Steve Jobs talking about the media in the United States said, “I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers. I think we need editorial now more than ever”.

With this video, I’m saddened to agree that Steve Jobs was right. How can we ensure that videos such as this standup against better scrutiny? In my humble opinion, we too should fear to be a nation of bloggers. I recognize the irony. This opinion piece was written on a weblog after all. Then again, Philippine mainstream media is hardly better— and maybe even worst. Depressing isn’t it?

I have to ask. As citizens and players of this online world, as curators— have we used this great power, and great responsibility, and put it to good use, and make real world changes?

The purpose of PinoyMonkeyPride’s video is obvious enough: a hatchet job, and crass manipulation. Without issues available to strike at the President’s character and popularity rating, the people behind the creation of this video attempt to rehash old issues. Which is a shame because there are loads of work to be done, and legitimate albeit not sexy issues around to obsess over like K+12, Reproductive Health Bill, Freedom of Information, the lousy business climate, the state of Philippine Internet, and many more.

Oh, yeah, let’s not forget what we need now is someone to obsess about the President’s love life, or lack thereof.

Right?

Viral is an adjective that relates to a virus. It also means a piece of information or content rapidly spreading across our information networks. In this case, the video in question is both.

PinoyMonkeyPride’s video is the perfect example of truthiness— “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts of facts known to be true.” It is an example of the very thing— the source of what makes our nation not only poor economically, but poor culturally, and even poorer intellectually. We quibble about the unimportant, and like the unemployed making their home along our railways, fret, and heckle, and drown in cynicism and drama, and do just about everything except what’s important: making a better world. That dear friends, is appalling, and is the saddest part of all.

Image credit: Wallace collection, London, public domain.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Claret Mrc

    you should not be onion skinned! instead of over eracting you present the good things of pinoys gov’t if there was any.

  • Amy

    What? This govt cant take a dose of its own medicine? Ang mapikon, talo.

  • GabbyD

    the video raised mentioned several incidents of violence against farmers by people directly under the employ of the conjuanco family or nonoy himself.

    i.e. aquino’s bodyguards KILLED X people.

    thats huge. if that is in anyway wrong, it should be corrected. but i have NOT seen anyone correct it. 

    so are the accusations true?

  • Manuelbuencamino

    I’m surprised people even bothered to view the video. Title pa lang give-away na.

    • cocoy

      MB, i actually saw it a week ago, but didn’t bother opening the link.  Truth enough it was. 

  • GabbyD

    one thing that is true, and is something that makes no sense, is that there was a deal to give back HL land to the tennants. 

    the reason it wasnt returned was coz, there were no tennants…?!

    this makes no sense. i have yet to see alternative arguments.

  • Nothing new. The anti-pinoy blog has done worst. This 15 minutes youtube video is a political smear campaign, a psy-war if you will, nothing more, nothing less, and can be expected from any Noynoy hater any time. More of the same will be coming out, I’m sure of it, and all Noynoy haters will be singing Hosannas to it. Hohuuuuum.

    The smarts will definitely use their minds and not be taken by this bait like dumb fish.

  • GabbyD

    Can we catalog what was wrong with the video? 

    from what chua wrote, a major fact that was wrong was the mendiola massacre. any others? it should be simple to bullet point criticize each of the videos misinformation.

    the other main criticism i’ve read is that alot of this stuff is already known, there is no attempt to cover up. while this is reasonable, if that is the only criticism, would it be correct to say that the video is accurate?

    i.e. my middle name is bolabog. not many people know it. but it IS my name.

  • Nik

    I’m concerned with the idea that just because it’s propaganda, or might have a modicum of truth held within, it should be forgiven it’s historical trespasses and outright misrepresentations.

    When a view is put forth purporting to represent an accurate reading of Philippine history (or any history for that matter) it opens itself up for critical analysis. 

    The counter-attacks by supporters of the general thrust of the video are disheartening to say the least. Bad history is just that, bad. It misrepresents, it misinterprets, and quite honestly how can we support a conclusion based on faulty assumptions? That fails basic logical framework analysis.

    I find the video to be a mind-numblingly simplistic stroll through over one hundred years of complex Philippine history; and that is setting aside my personal politics.

    But beyond, the almost rabid support for the video, to the extent that any attempt to offer cogent critiques of the history as presented, results in attacks on self and personal politics to be damning. It represents the utterly shallow depths in which public discourse in the Philippines now resides.

  • Anonymous

    So why again does it seem that it is only F Sionil Jose who seeks finality to the question of —- ” Who was mastermind to Ninoy Aquino murder?”

    ( * By finality, I do not refer to —- “… why bother? Statute of limitations means the guilty, when identified by a definitive forum, the guilty still walk free.” At si Ver lang naman talaga eh, ano ka ba? Tanong ka pa ng tanong?!

    By finality, I mean that a definitive forum concludes /// a Truth Commission concludes that truly it was only the soldiers who organized themselves for the assasination and that there was no one else who masterminded the assasination.