The feared influence of social media on economic policies

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The Philippines is opening a new chapter this week as national election results trickle in, but concerns about how social media shapes governance and influences the direction of the economy loom.

Victor Andres Manhit, founder and managing director of the think tank Stratbase Group, made this observation as a resource person at a recent economic forum organized by Security Bank Corp.

Manhit said that, in particular, the direction of the economy over the next six months will be determined by who wins as president and who sits in the new cabinet.

He said that, as usual, the economy will evolve based on statements the new president will make in his first State of the Nation address in July.

“Social media shapes discourse [and] mainstream media is catching up,” Manhit.

Social media platforms – over the past few years and especially during the recent election campaign – have been plagued by misinformation and misinformation.

Operators of platforms like Facebook and Twitter have themselves announced the suspension of networks of accounts carrying inauthentic behavior. This refers to accounts through which users misrepresent themselves or accounts that are fake and used to artificially boost engagement for certain content.

“If the presidency is shaped by what happens on social media, then imagine what governance would be like and that for me is the big challenge,” Manhit said. According to Tsek.ph, an academia-based fact-checking initiative, Vice President Leni Robredo is the “biggest victim” of misinformation while former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is the beneficiary of positive but misleading messages on social networks.

In a commentary published in April, New York-based GoldmanSachs said Marcos’ plans for the country’s economic future appeared to be a continuation of Duterte’s policies in general and pointed to more spending and minimal management of the economy. debt.

At the same time, an administration led by Leni Robredo could mean a significant shift, given her overall plan to free the Philippines from the clutches of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GoldmanSachs noted that this is the case even as the next administration is expected to make policy choices such as maintaining a stance toward cautious fiscal improvement while fostering a still-nascent economic recovery.

These choices will have to be made in the context of public debt and external financing constraints, and the negative effects of global price shocks.

Last February, a slew of Filipino economists – including former economic planning secretaries who served in successive administrations from that of Corazon Aquino to that of Rodrigo Duterte – expressed their support for the vice-president’s candidacy. President Leni Robredo as President.

“We are confident that only competent leadership can restore people’s trust in government to effectively preside over the collective economic recovery effort in the aftermath of the pandemic,” the economists said in a statement.

The economists said that considering that economic recovery should be a priority on the agenda of the next administration, they approve of “leadership with a vision for the future” and who understands that the resolution of the crisis will take a long time but also appreciates the urgency of providing relief and comfort to the vulnerable.

“Poor governance is a poison that kills both lives and livelihoods,” they said. “Robredo’s mark of good governance is the antidote this country needs.”

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