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Harnessing social media for good.

Do not use all caps; speak kindly; and remember the Golden Rule.

These are just three of the 10 'social media commandments' advocated by #TheSMLProject, a campaign established by a group of Mindanao-based students to counter hate speech online, as well as raise awareness on responsible social media use.

The Mindanao student group is also one of the top five teams that will be financially supported by educational nonprofit Mano Amiga Philippines, following their successful pitch at the recently concluded Digital Youth Summit.

Now on its second year, the Digital Youth Summit, held by Mano Amiga together with Facebook, brought together 12 youth organizations after a nationwide call for applications of online campaigns that promote digital literacy and social impact.

Around 80 student leaders, social investors, community developers and tech enthusiasts from all over the country attended the summit and participated in a series of workshops and discussions on what it means to be a digital Filipino and how they can help boost the 'bayanihan' (community) spirit among the youth's digital tribes.

The three-day summit also allowed these organizations to refine their campaigns before pitching them to a panel of judges.

Along with the #TheSMLProject, the campaigns which won cash prizes, webinars and mentoring from Facebook and Mano Amiga are: I Am Mindanao by the I Am Mindanao Movement, which aims to address violent extremism and promote lasting peace in Mindanao through social media, social marketing and social mobilization; Association of Youth Environmental Journalists by Camp SEWI (Students Environmental Writing Initiative), which is working on increasing conversation on environmental issues in campus and community newspapers by encouraging a more extensive coverage of environmental stories through youth engagement;

Project Smile, an organization involved in different kinds of community engagement activities all geared toward addressing the needs of disadvantaged groups and persons with disabilities; and Project Saysay, an advocacy focused on spreading the ideals and values of great Filipinos through its history- and culture-centered programs.

'Digital literacy goes beyond just knowing how to use the online platforms,' said Mano Amiga cofounder and executive director Lynn Pinugu. 'This year, we looked carefully at the sustainability of these projects, the founders' commitment to their cause, as well as how clear their goals are. Their offline activities are just as important as their online ones.'

Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Development Communication Society's #TheSMLProject (SML stands for 'social media literacy,' as well as 'so much love' in millennial speak), for one, started its campaign on Facebook by posting the 10 Social Media Commandments, or the 10 basic things one must remember when engaging with others online.

These commandments are:

Do not use all caps (it's like shouting online).

Speak kindly.

Remember the Golden Rule.

Don't post anything when you're angry.

Never alter photos or videos to make a different version of events.

Learn how to tone down.

Stop. Look. Read.

Minimalism is key.

Keep it PG.


'We started this campaign because there is a proliferation of hate speech, fake news and other issues online. We saw an opportunity to advocate for responsible use of social media,' said Karlo Jess Abecial.

The next phase of their campaign, Abecial said, is the launching of 'Operation Heart Attack' and the SML board game. The board game is inspired by Snakes and Ladders, and will feature the good and bad types of characters one encounters online.

Operation Heart Attack, on the other hand, aims to counter hate speech against Visayans. Its initial target audience are high school students in Cagayan de Oro, said Abecial. The campaign hopes to dissuade Visayans from attacking those who post negatively about them.

'We believe countering hate speech with more hate speech will only lead to further division,' said Abecial. 'One of our initial objectives would be to garner 1,000 heart reactions to one post with hate speech against Bisaya.'

The top five organizations will receive partial funding for their projects, webinars, and mentoring from Facebook, Mano Amiga and their partners to help these young advocates expand their campaigns both online and offline so they can continue to empower other Filipino youth, said Pinugu.

'The reason we expanded into digital literacy is that [we see] how those who need this the most are impoverished communities,' she added. 'Social media is also a tool for empowerment of young Filipinos because it provides access to so much knowledge.'
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Nov 16, 2018
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