The emergence of the Philippines as one of the world’s social media capitals —with one out of every three Filipinos on Facebook— has led to the widespread acceptance of social media as a key source of news and current information.
Earlier this year, social media came to the fore as the main channels of information concerning the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that hit Negros Island. And late last year, social media also proved crucial in reporting on, and finding help for, the victims of Typhoon Sendong in Mindanao.
“[Social media] are a direct connection to web users and TV viewers, and are an efficient avenue for gathering and delivering news. They are also platforms for receiving feedback and ideas about our programming,” says Howie Severino, Vice President for Multimedia Journalism of GMA Network.
The immediacy and impact of social media are such that they have been recognized by the Pulitzer Prize alongside traditional journalism stalwarts.
“I think you’ll continue to see social media in the breaking news category, but it will show up in others as well,” said Pulitzer Prize administrator Sig Gissler of the growing number of prize-winning stories from social media.
Filipinos’ own widespread adoption of social media for news consumption is reflected in the growing following accorded to the news accounts of the country’s top broadcast networks.
GMA News, in particular, is the most-followed individual news account on Twitter and Facebook among local news broadcasters.
On social networking site Facebook, as of April 17, GMA News’ fan page had a total of 403,999 likes, while ABS-CBNNews.com had 223,510 and TV5’s JournalisMo posted 205,304.
Meanwhile, GMA News’ Twitter account, @GMANews, hit 726,855 followers as of April 17, while ABS-CBN News had 407,103. Meanwhile, ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC)’s Twitter account had a total following of 416,858 as of that time.
It is estimated that about 30% of Filipinos are active online, and according to a 2010 study by global digital marketing intelligence agency comScore, the Philippines scored the highest penetration of social media in the Asia-Pacific region, with more than 90 percent of its entire web population visiting a social networking site in February 2010.