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Social Media in the Philippines is Widespread, but what is its Impact? Share on email Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on google Share on digg Share on delicious More Sharing ServicesShare October 12, 2011

By Emil Tapnio and Steven Rood
The Philippines long had a terrible reputation for telecommunications, with Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew famously saying that in 1992, “98 percent of the population are waiting for a telephone, and the other 2 percent for a dial tone.”

Above, a rice farmer in the Philippines uses his mobile phone to send a text message. Photo: IRRI Images. However, beginning with the administration of Fidel Ramos (1992-1998) and followed by President Estrada (1998-2001), the telecoms industry was liberalized, and phone ownership skyrocketed. While there were more landlines available, much of the growth was in mobile phones. Soon the Philippines was the texting (SMS) capital of the world – to the point where the practice played a part of the ouster of President Estrada early in 2001. When the Senate impeachment trial was suddenly adjourned without verdict, the text message went around “meet at EDSA.” Crowds gathered in the middle of the night and refused to leave the main Manila thoroughfare until he left the presidential palace. Fast forward to the present, and we have Facebook being used by more than 25 percent of the population – ranking 8th in the world, while other social media networks (such as Twitter) are rapidly growing in popularity. In September 2011, the Philippine Trust Index, commissioned by EON The Stakeholder Firm, was released. The study revealed that 68 percent of the respondents view online news sites as the most trusted sources of news and information while 49 percent trust social networking sites. These impressive metrics are telling about usage, but more needs to be done to understand the impact that social media has. A good example was the exciting initiative by ABS-CBN, “Boto Mo Ipatrol Mo” (patrol your vote) that...
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