Social Media Reporting on the #Megamall Robbery

My mom and I were just finishing up dinner that Saturday when I checked Twitter. I spotted a tweet from MMDA that said there was an ongoing situation at the mall.

Soon, my timeline was abuzz with retweets from supposed eyewitnesses about what was happening: that shots had been fired, people had stampeded, and shops had shut their roll-up doors for security. No one was allowed in or out of the mall.

Then I started seeing tweets about a hostage situation, but something felt off. It was like listening to a story becoming more elaborate the more it was told.

By that time we had tuned in to AM radio to see if they had gotten ahold of more concrete details. I was wary about trusting too much to Twitter because you never know if your source saw it with their own eyes or is relaying a story someone had in turn told to them.

Then DZMM tweeted that their reporter had interviewed someone who told him a woman told him the hold-up had happened at a jewelry store and the perpetrators were wearing cosplay costumes. Yes, you read that right: the reporter reported hearsay!

This hearsay started spreading as fact, and opinion turned ugly against cosplayers. There was really a cosplay event happening at the mall on the day, but I believed that had the perpetrators been in costume, they weren’t really participants at the event but had just taken advantage of it.

After an hour of us breathlessly awaiting more news, finally SM Megamall and the mayor of Mandaluyong released statements.

There was no hostage-taking.

Only two shots had been fired, not five and not repeatedly as tweets had reported.

The suspects were in plain clothes, not costumes. (Nakuryente ang DZMM dun.)

And the suspects had gotten away in the first two minutes during the initial panic and confusion. They’re still at large.

#Megamall trended, but the hashtag perpetuated a lot of the initial wrong reporting. It wasn’t just a Twitter problem, either: Philstar.com reported it too (and still hasn’t retracted the article). The next morning I found myself still reading reactions from people especially about what the suspects were wearing and whether there had been a hostage situation.

Yes, Twitter and Facebook provided a lot of real-time updates at a time when people were desperate for more information. It’s also during those times when it’s most important to discern what is factual and what is not. The nature of the internet and social media being what it is, wrong information sticks around longer (due to search engine caching of uncorrected articles and tweets). Because I’ve been an internet user for a long time, I’ve learned to turn a critical eye toward “news” I see spreading on social media. However, there are thousands of Filipinos who are new to this and don’t know how to fact-check for themselves.

I think it’s important for people to start educating themselves on how to use social media properly so they aren’t swept up and carried away by every trending topic.

Red Ocean, Blue Ocean

In 2009 when I took an improv acting workshop, our mentor Jourdan Sebastian told us about “red ocean, blue ocean”. This was adapted from a business strategy book called Blue Ocean Strategy, which posits that instead of attempting to compete within the existing market (a red ocean full of sharks in a feeding frenzy), a business should create new demand in uncontested market space (a blue ocean).

Improv Acting Workshop 2009

improv workshop activity


Instead of business, though, we applied it to ourselves as actors, performers, and artists. What could we offer that was new to the industry? What did we each have that nobody else did?

After the workshop period ended, we each went our ways. My batchmates went on to make (bigger) names for themselves:

  • Abby Asistio, musician and alopecia awareness advocate
  • Gee Canlas, speed-talking TV host and Amazing Race PH contestant
  • Miko Pepito, spoken word artist
  • JB de Leon, professional photographer
  • Teddy Corpuz, musician of Rocksteddy and co-host of It’s Showtime
  • Roxanne Barcelo, actress

To tell you the truth I felt out of my depth in that workshop. Everyone there had a “blue ocean”; for instance, Abby could sing and rap, and now that she’s open about her alopecia it to set her apart. Gee could talk a mile a minute, which attracted attention from TV networks that cast her as a host.

What was I good at? What did I have that nobody else had? Looking back now, I didn’t turn out the way I thought I would in 2009. But I think I’ve found my blue ocean, and it’s online. It’s not going to be without difficulty that I make my own mark; I’m not the first female running blogger, nor the most famous. But I do have my own unique skills that no one else has. I’m hoping that makes the difference for me this year. ;)

Tea Time

I used to say that I only had one cup of coffee a week. Then it grew to two. Then three. Before I knew it, I had a full-blown dependence on Starbucks lattes. It didn’t help that for the previous month I’ve been trying to rack up enough stickers to claim a planner.

So I went cold-turkey. And that’s where this belated Christmas basket from Lipton Philippines comes in.

Thanks Lipton for the Christmas basket!

Thanks for the Christmas basket!

I go through phases of what kinds of drinks I prefer. I had this whole orange juice phase, and I’ve just gotten past the coffee phase. The cycle’s coming back to tea, and as I write this entry I’m brewing up a cup of Lipton Yellow Label. … Read more

Shopping with My GCash-AMEX Virtual Card

I use my credit card for online payments especially when I purchase apps for my iPod Touch. However, there are websites in the US, like Amazon.com, that won’t ship to the Philippines — or if they do, there’s a hefty shipping charge.

That’s why when Globe Telecom introduced the GCash-AMEX virtual card last October, I jumped on the chance to order some books and DVDs I’ve been dying to get for the longest time.

Activating my GCash-AMEX virtual card
using an iPad to activate my GCash-AMEX virtual card

Along with media and bloggers, I was invited to the launch and learned that Globe had struck up a partnership with American Express and My Shopping Box to make shopping from US stores easier. … Read more