A news outlet’s post on Facebook, sharing an article on physical distancing in public transportation, confused the public since it used a photo that included local celebrities.
Manila Bulletin on Tuesday afternoon shared a link of an article reporting about the government approving the one-seat apart policy in mass transportation which disregards the one-meter rule of the World Health Organization.
“The government has agreed to implement a one-seat apart rule in public transportation, effectively scrapping the one-meter distance in line with further reopening the economy during the coronavirus pandemic,” its caption on Facebook reads.
The post was accompanied by a picture of passengers on a bus, which made online Filipinos did a double take since it initially appeared as if it was merged with a picture of local celebrities in a row.
“Nalito ako diyan sa pic,” commented a Facebook user with laughing-with-tears emojis.
“Para saan picture ng artista?” asked another online user with a flushed face emoji.
“I thought collage siya,” another Filipino said.
“Hahahaha sorry but natawa ako. Kini-click ko ‘yung sila Andrea sa baba kasi akala ko there (are) two pics uploaded (laughing emoji) ta’s pagkakita ko at first, nalito ako, anong kinalaman nila,” quipped another Facebook user.
The picture was credited to Ted Aljibe of international news agency Agence France-Presse, which featured the caption:
“In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, passengers wearing face shields ride a bus in Manila.”
The picture was not a “collage,” as what some Filipinos have initially thought, but a picture of bus passengers. The bus itself featured the picture of local celebrities as part of its design.
The post made such an online buzz that it earned Manila Bulletin 38,000 likes and reactions, 2,300 comments and 9,800 shares on Facebook.
News outlets always accompany article links of its reports on social media with pictures to boost engagement and online presence among the public.
There are times that the article link and picture are uploaded separately, such as the case of Manila Bulletin.
The one-seat apart policy
Meanwhile, the government has approved the new rule of the transportation department about basing the physical distance on public transport on seats instead of the recommended one-meter measure by WHO and the health department.
Spokesperson Goddess Libiran of the Department of Transportation said that they will release guidelines about the implementation of the one-seat apart rule for jeepneys, buses and the mass rail transit system.
The decision was made to increase public transport capacity, operationalize more public utility vehicle routes and units and accelerate service contracting for buses and jeepneys to accommodate more commuters.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that it was based on “science,” particularly on the studies presented by former health secretary Manuel Dayrit.
Roque shared that other safety protocols would be implemented on public transport as well, such as the non-talking of passengers to reduce the emission of respiratory droplets and the mandatory use of face shields and face masks.
WHO recommends for people maintain at least a one-meter apart distance from each other in the public to reduce the potential transmission of the novel coronavirus disease.
The measure is almost equivalent to a motorcycle’s length, according to the Department of Health.