After the impact of disinfo on elections, those who tell the truth still need to collaborate

‘If you have a situation where the media can’t report negative things because that means they’re attacking, then it can be a big problem for management,’ said Gemma Mendoza, head of digital Rappler service

MANILA, Philippines – With the end of a national election that has been heavily impacted by the use of social media and disinformation, building partnerships with truth -telling sectors and organizations is paramount.

At a briefing on July 6 supported by the United Nations joint program for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines, Rappler’s head of digital services Gemma Mendoza presented a report on how the 2022 elections played out on social media.

While all candidates use social media, Mendoza cited some with longer preparation, with narratives developed over time.

“One of the unique things about [past election] is that the campaigns did not begin before the election. It’s really like messages, the outcome is, in a way, the fruit of years of seeding narratives. And one of the stories that really circulated was about the gold and wealth of the Marcoses, ”Mendoza said.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won. in the presidential race with a majority vote of 31.6 million Filipinos, despite his family’s history of widespread plunder during his father’s dictatorship.

On social media, it’s a two-way presidential race between Marcos, Robredo

In conclusion, Mendoza said disinformation on social media was a key factor determining the outcome of the 2022 election, and while fact -checking collaborations have helped fight disinformation, many of it started too late. “It’s not enough, not really enough to stop the water,” he said.

#FactsFirstPH – a coalition of more than 140 news organizations, civil society groups, legal groups, and other sectors – was launched in January, hoping to maximize the impact of the fact check and fight disinformation in the Philippines before the election. It was awarded the Most Innovative and Impactful Collaboration at Global Fact 9, an international fact-checking conference.

Mainstream media ‘sidelined’

Mendoza stressed the need for more collaboration, as there is an “entire ecosystem” within digital networks that no longer listens to major news organizations. He said that, to a certain degree, the mainstream media has been sidelined.

He also mentioned how, even though supporters of other candidates were critical of the Marcoses and called out their lies and cruelty, it hardly hurt his network. “It was insurmountable at that time.”

The rising mistrust of the mainstream media has been exacerbated by how, in the second half of 2021, Facebook pages and accounts supporting Marcos and Duterte have more aggressively pushed false statements that undermine the credibility of the media.

Duterte's' institutional 'disinformation, paved the way for Marcos' success

Many sources attack and destroy mainstream media but they do not apply the same ethical boundaries to themselves, he said.

Marcos himself has previously shut down the mainstream media, avoiding ambush interviews and presidential debates, except those led by SMNI.

“[We’re] beyond today’s election, let’s move on to how to implement this new government…. If you have a situation where the media cannot report negative things because it means they will be attacked, then it can be a big problem for management and for holding this administration and other officials within the administration accountable. this, ”Mendoza said.

He admitted that the mainstream media cannot fight disinformation alone. He said there also needs to be conversations with real-world networks that are still in turmoil and can influence people who have become radical against the mainstream media.

“People need to understand the role that the media, which are journalists, has to play within this governance society to ensure that the public interest is promoted,” he said.

Does the fact check make a difference?

Mendoza pointed out that debunking enables labeling, which then helps prevent misinformation, especially accidental sharing. When it comes to repeat offenders or motivated groups or actors, platforms need to act.

While Facebook has a third-party fact checking program, it does not automatically delete false information. It removes misinformation if it violates the platform’s Community Standards.

In 2020, Facebook removed a network linked to Philippine state forces because it violated policies on coordinated misconduct.

Meanwhile, YouTube has almost no policy against disinformation. (READ: YouTube’s vague policies allow lies, disinformation to thrive)

Mendoza said the problem is the amount of incorrect and deceptive content on these platforms. He compared a per-piece takedown approach to a whack-a-mole game.

Regardless, he noted the growing interest in fact -checking, a recognition that this is a problem that people need to be concerned about.

“Just the fact that you get a lot of people interested in the idea of ​​fact checking before the election is something to hope for,” Mendoza said. –