A ton of things have happened since Tuesday afternoon when the attacks conducted by local terrorists on Marawi City in Lanao del Sur took social media by storm.
Since then, joint state forces have clashed with the terrorist threat, estimated to be around 100 armed men. At least three from the government side have been killed while 15 others were injured.
However, things are not faring so well online where a lot of Filipino netizens are still getting confused over facts and false information from the panic caused by the incident coupled with the posts of irresponsible albeit well-meaning social media gawkers.
To avoid this, here are some important things to straighten out before everyone starts spreading misinformation.
1) ISIS is attacking Marawi City: FALSE
On Tuesday afternoon, social media was flooded with various posts showing and discussing the photos of some vehicles including one that appeared to be a police mobile bearing ISIS flags in Marawi City.
While it’s true that these are indeed ISIS flags, it’s actually the Maute group—a local faction of bandits vying for the support of ISIS—that conducted the attacks.
In fact, this isn’t the first time that an ISIS flag was spotted in Marawi City.
According to the government, local terrorists have been using the ISIS flag to grandstand with the hopes of getting the international group’s attention so they’ll be granted funding for their illicit activities.
2) The situation is getting out of hand and might spill to Metro Manila: FALSE
This is simply not true. The Armed Forces of the Philippines has already stated that they are “in full control of the situation” in Marawi City.
3) Duterte declared martial law in the whole country: FALSE
No, President Duterte only declared martial law in the whole island of Mindanao along with Jolo, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
4) Martial law will last for an indefinite period: FALSE
Although the President said something along the lines of wanting to extend Mindanao’s martial law until the terrorist threat is quashed, it will only be limited to 60 days as per the Constitution.
5) This is the first time martial law has been declared since the drafting of the 1987 Constitution: FALSE
A lot may have forgotten this but former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared martial law to address the Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao back in 2009.
6) You’re helping spread awareness by posting on social media: NOT ALWAYS
That depends. If you’re actually posting photos of sensitive information like the military troops’ position then you’re actually helping the enemy. Remember, these terrorists also have access to the Internet just like you.
Also, reposting unconfirmed information or personal assumptions without basis will just help the Maute group succeed in their goal which is to spread fear so their acts of terror get noticed. The last thing we need to do is give these terrorists a voice through our social media accounts.
In light of this, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Edgar Arevalo has asked the public to refrain from posting information that will worsen the situation in Marawi City.
“We fervently urge our people to refrain from posting in social media information that would tend exacerbate the situation. Especially of photos and videos on the movements of our troops and on terrorist propaganda circulating through social media,” he said.
We understand that everyone naturally wants to help out, but sometimes it’s simply best to step back and let the authorities handle the situation especially with information dissemination. We won’t stop you though from posting or sharing what you want online but we’ll tell you this: When in doubt, always remember to think before you click.