Learning To Be Safe With Our Online Practices

It was a night of informative casual conversations about digital marketing, information consumption, and data security on 31 July during Asia Society Conversations: Internet Survival Guide. Speakers Oz Arcilla (EON DiG), Nicai De Guzman (Probe Media Foundation Inc. and Summit Media), Atty. Francis Acero (National Privacy Commission), and Moderator Mitzi Borromeo of DigiPinoy sat down and discussed the ins and outs of using the internet.


Each speaker discussed their respective areas of expertise while exchanging ideas about interconnected concepts. While Nicai De Guzman discussed fake news, Oz Arcilla talked about how and why they have more viewer traffic than real news due to certain marketing strategies implemented to mislead people. He also gave some examples of large scale companies like Target, Kmart, and Sony Playstation having dealt with big amounts of data that were breached, to which Atty. Acero supplemented with anecdotes of local clients (without naming names) that had significant gaps in their data security. It seemed inevitable that their knowledge of the internet would overlap and interconnect given the complex nature of the platform, and their insights that resulted from such were eye opening to say the least.


Mitzi Borromeo mentioned that the Philippines is still the country with the most social media users in the world, not to the surprise of many attendees. What did catch their attention however, was the fact that by using different applications and features linked to social media, they allowed their data to be mined by these technological juggernauts. To this Atty. Acero Stated


“It’s really important to get digital literacy, not just it terms of how things work but also how to protect yourself.”


All speakers during the discussion seemed to be familiar with the fact that online personality tests, applications that ask for access through Facebook or Instagram, and online shopping websites all submit your data for free collection by the social media companies which can then be sold to marketing companies for more specific targeting strategies. In the words of Mitzi Borromeo


“[B]y searching and buying all these things online, it turns out that we are the product.”


The conversation wasn’t all data security though. Arcilla and De Guzman gave some detailed portrayals of the online landscape of user behaviors that contribute to contemporary practices in digital marketing and online journalism as well. They explained that given the large scale transition to a world of open information, it has made many users more susceptible to having short attention spans and easy to consume media. De Guzman pointed out how news outlets use short form videos and articles to engage casual viewers and how long form has become more of a calculated measure that needs close audience observation. Arcilla discussed how social media marketing has grown to be more complex over time, finding the balance between the instant gratification desires of the users and the long term engagement needed by the marketers.


By the end of the evening guests were checking their smartphones to change their privacy settings and asking the speakers for advice on how to deal with the overwhelming amount of knowledge needed to survive and evolve with the internet as a new dimension of everyday life. All had left the talk with more knowledge of internet use, a broader network of likeminded individuals, and a small but important reminder to be more cautious when dealing online and to always think before you click.


Asia Society Conversations: Internet Survival Guide was co-presented by Asia Society Philippines and Acceler8, sponsored by Shakey’s Philippines and San Miguel Brewery.