Filipino youth vulnerable to fake news, misinformation – study

Published May 6, 2021, 2:08 PM

by Gabriela Baron

Filipino youth were among the most vulnerable to fake news and information, according to a study found by the Programme for International Student Assessment.


PISA’s latest data showed that the most common digital skill taught at school on average is understanding the consequences of making information publicly available online.

Meanwhile, the least common skill was how to detect phishing or spam emails.

“There are also considerable differences across and within countries. An average of 54 percent of students in OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries reported being trained at school on how to recognise whether information is biased or not,” the report read.

Among OECD countries, PISA said over 70 percent of students reported receiving training in Australia, Canada, Denmark, and the United States.

However, less than 45 percent of students reported receiving training in Israel, Latvia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

“The percentage difference in students who were taught how to detect biased information between students from socio-economic advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds across OECD countries was 8 percentage points in favour of advantaged students,” the report further read.

In Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the difference is around 14 percentage points or higher.

PISA 2018 also included several scenario-based tasks where students were tasked to rate how useful different strategies were to solve a particular reading situation. One of these scenarios asked students to click on the link of an email from a well-known mobile operator and fill out a form, also known as phishing emails.

Forty percent of students on average across OECD countries responded that clicking on the link was somewhat appropriate or very appropriate.

Students in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom scored the highest in the index of knowledge of reading strategies for assessing the credibility of sources (higher than 0.20 points) across all participating countries and economies in PISA 2018.

In contrast, students in Baku (Azerbaijan), Indonesia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, and Thailand had the lowest scores in this index (lower than -0.65 points) across all participating countries and economies in PISA 2018. Among OECD countries, students in Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, and Turkey had the lowest scores in this index (lower than -0.20 points).

Moreover, the PISA 2018 reading assessment included one item-unit that tested whether students can distinguish between facts and opinions.

“In conclusion, when the education system provides students with in-school opportunities to learn how to detect biased information, it is this rather than overall reading performance or GDP per capita that is driving a strong association with the estimated percentage correct in the item on distinguishing fact from opinion,” it said.

“[The results imply that being able to distinguish fact from opinion, assess the credibility of information sources, and learn strategies to detect biased or false information are necessary skills for reading in a digital world. Ultimately, the ability to distinguish good from bad information is important to preserving democratic values.”

PISA noted that the consequences of being poorly informed can lead to “political polarization, decreased trust in public institutions, and undermined democracy.”

The PISA 2018 results showed that Filipino students scored a mean of 340 points in the reading comprehension exam, way below the OECD average of 487 points.

In 2019, the Philippines performed the poorest out of 79 countries in a reading literacy assessment conducted by the OECD.