Wisdom and compassion will prevent another infodemic
The prevalence of false information has become as life-threatening as the spread of the coronavirus. For Supinya Klangnarong who heads Co-fact, a fact-checking platform in Thailand, a double dose of vaccine is also necessary to curb misinformation: wisdom coupled with compassion.
In the first online episode of Wonder Women on 29 April 2021, Supinya openly shared her personal story of “happiness through suffering.” A practicing Buddhist, she radiated calmness all throughout the interview. Considering her gigantic responsibilities in managing a wide multi-sectoral and cross-generational network, she exuded utmost composure. Her organization Co-fact verifies the accuracy of information in a world that has become full of bots and trolls. But Supinya always tries to “find peace in chaos.” In doing so, she is able to do her role with much more efficiency and rigor.
Co-fact was inspired by the initiative of the civic tech community in Taiwan. In Thailand, they hold dialogues as a marketplace of ideas, and workshops to impart journalism and critical thinking skills. They run an app that provides a chatbot service where the public can submit content for verification.
Supinya mentioned that teaching people how to fact-check was a challenge in the beginning. “In a society that is extremely polite and defers to seniority, interrupting conversations and pointing out mistakes are deemed inappropriate,” said Supinya. “We had to determinedly communicate the importance of sticking with facts. Fact-checking benefits others, but especially one’s own self,” she added.
As a media activist, Supinya believes that misinformation could be lessened if not contained if people commonly adhere to a set of community standards, with freedom of expression always at the paramount. On the issue of data privacy, especially during this pandemic with the necessity of tracing apps, she opined that it is important to support what is necessary, but there should be transparency where the data are used. “It is important that people are able to decide when to turn it on or off,” she emphasized.
No one left behind
Supinya observed that while the “world is getting bigger, the path is becoming narrower.” Inequality is more palpable, with the digital divide exacerbating the imbalance in society. She underscored that Internet is now considered a human right, and as an advocate of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), Supinya’s takes on the task that “no one gets left behind.”
In her reflection during the online conversation, she said that while society should ensure that there are ample opportunities available for everybody, it is the responsibility of the individual to capitalize on these opportunities. “Give that opportunity to yourself. No one can really hurt you and liberate you other than yourself, and then you can share your strength with others,” advised Supinya.
When asked if she would press the restart button if given the chance to reboot the world, she was hesitant to respond. “Am I Thanos? I don’t want to be authoritarian,” Supinya answered referring to the supervillain who wanted to wipe out half the universe in the Marvel Comics The Avengers. “But I would probably install a microchip of wisdom and compassion. It’s already in all of us, but we need to refresh to appreciate humanity better,” she recommended.
Supinya hopes that the world achieves a level of equanimity where people would not resort to conspiracies and hate online and offline. It may take a while to get there. In the meantime, Supinya will continue meditating daily as not to carry negative thoughts in her sleep. And so when she wakes up, she could create new wonders, and always be ready to avenge the truth.
Watch the full interview here –
Wonder Women is an online conversation series about success, wellness, and personal freedom. It runs every Thursday at 3pm GMT+7. Sign up here – bit.ly/WonderWomenSeries