‘Marian Hukom’ comic illustrates the dangers of cyberspace during the pandemic

The Alternative Media Foundation commissioned the comics as part of the Media Freedom Initiative

Marianie or “Marian Hukom”, a Filipino graphic designer known for her works that depict women’s empowerment and representation, has partnered with the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) to call for action against the prevalence of fake news in the Phillippines.

Through this collaboration, Marianie published two comics about the infodemic and online gender-based violence, both of which have become more prevalent during the pandemic.

These comics also amplify key issues that are often overlooked when discussing the pandemic. Some may only see COVID-19 as a health issue, but it has spread to many other issues and problems as well.

Both comics were commissioned by FMA as part of the Media Freedom Initiative, a five-year program implemented by Internews and funded by USAID.

In the first fake news comic, Marian explicitly links the infodemic to the current pandemic, describing that the rise in COVID-19 cases parallels the proliferation of fake news.

Even if a misrepresentation in a series of posts goes unnoticed by some, it still poses a threat to those who are not so informed. Marian Hukom calls on everyone to fact check, be mindful and educate others as much as possible.

She stresses the need to speak up when incorrect information is being spread and to persevere in the search for the truth, in the hope of mobilizing people to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

Photo by Marian Hukom/Alternative Media Foundation

She also made a comic on how to fact-check, highlighting key actions such as reading beyond the title and photos, checking the publication date, and assessing the credibility of the source.

Photo by Marian Hukom and the Alternative Media Foundation

In a separate comic, Marian also encouraged everyone to “burst” their own filter bubbles by expanding the information they absorb and become informed digital citizens.

Photo by Marian Hukom and the Alternative Media Foundation

Along with misinformation and misinformation, Marian also brings up the obvious gender-based violence prevalent on social media, especially for women.

Due to the pandemic and rapid advances in technology, pretty much everything can be done virtually. Yet, alongside the convenience of cyberspace, there is the perpetuation of gender-based violence, especially with many people confined to their homes due to COVID-19.

Marian posits examples such as harassment, sextortion, invasion of privacy, and identity theft, all of which are vicious acts that can cause serious and almost irreversible harm to the victim.

The topic of gender misinformation was also touched upon, which is essentially the spreading of false claims with the aim of discrediting or tinting a woman’s image.

While others may view gender misinformation as superficial, it still poses a significant threat to the safety of victims.

Marian connects these acts to the patriarchal society we live in and encourages everyone to participate in the movement against gender-based violence.

Photo by Marian Hukom/Alternative Media Foundation

Marian has gained traction online with her use of trendy styles and bright colors to create engaging comics and digital art for Filipinos.

Some of his personal projects include Nagmamahal, Maria Clara which is both an online platform and a print project centered on feminism in the Philippines. Nagmamahal, Maria Clara was actually her university thesis, and that’s how she discovered the Maria Clara archetype in the Philippines. – with reports by Jeff Winxin Collado/Rappler.com