Leni is 'favorite' subject of disinformation, says fact-check group in Senate probe

Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2022 04:42 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2022 10:02 PM

Vice President Leni Robredo, and representatives of the LENI Urban Poor (LENI UP), a coalition of nearly a thousand urban groups nationwide, sign a covenant that will address the immediate issues faced by the urban poor in the country on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. OVP handout
Vice President Leni Robredo, and representatives of the LENI Urban Poor (LENI UP), a coalition of nearly a thousand urban groups nationwide, sign a covenant that will address the immediate issues faced by the urban poor in the country on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. OVP handout

Disinformation benefited BBM- expert

MAYNILA (UPDATE)— Vice President Leni Robredo remains as the top target of disinformation in social media, a fact-checking group told a Senate committee on Wednesday. 

University of the Philippines' journalism professor Yvonne Chua said majority of misinformation online are directed against the presidential hopeful. 

“Of the 200 claims that we curated, based on our initial analysis, majority of those are directed against presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo," Chua told the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, which is reviewing criminal laws amid increased use of social media and technology. 

"Marami po talaga (there is a lot), every week, she is the biggest victim of disinformation or negative messaging, whether it’s about the typhoon, COVID-19 response, and all sorts," she added. 

Chua, who has been leading the collaborative fact-checking initiative Tsek.ph since the 2019 midterm elections, said the misinformation usually involves visual content, like infographics and art cards, among others.

ABS-CBN is a Tsek.ph partner.

 IN FAVOR OF BBM?

The disinformation propaganda also uses positive and negative messaging, which means telling lies about a candidate to boost an opponent's image.

Chua added that it has also intensified as the 2022 national elections neared, with many of the posts benefiting presidential frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., namesake son of fallen dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“There is a preponderance of negative messages against Leni and positive ones for Marcos… We see a substantial and significant volume of false or misleading claims about presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in which case, these are largely positive or in his favor seeking to promote him,” she explained. 

Her team, she added, also observed misleading posts promoting his father's regime, supposedly distorting historical accounts. 

Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Robredo's running mate, said it is high time to review the country's laws on the proper use of the internet due to the proliferation of disinformation. 

“With the findings of our independent fact-checkers, there is really a need to review our criminal laws to address the widespread disinformation and misinformation happening in our digital space,” Pangilinan said. 

A disinformation researcher earlier said "meme war" on social media is a strategic way to campaign for the upcoming 2022, and is being used online because it looks "more organic." 

Marcos recently claimed most social media posts in favor of him were "organic" and that he did not employ troll farms. 

“I challenge them to show me where the troll farms are. I challenge them to show me where I boosted. I challenge them to show me where I put ads,” he said in an interview over One News PH last week. 

“I have no troll farm. I have never had a troll farm. I have never had a click army, I never boosted. Everything’s organic, and I never bought ads,” he also said. 

FIGHTING MISINFORMATION

University of the Philippines relaunched in January Tsek.ph.

In June 2022, Robredo began correcting false news against her, saying it was no longer prompt to keep silent. She has since urged netizens to report "fake news peddlers."

In her interview with Boy Abunda, Robredo also said it was time for the Philippines to punish groups behind misuse of internet, not just in pornography but in social media.

"We should have a law that will criminalize, penalize these social media sites for them to be accountable and to be responsible in a way that these will not be accessible to people who are not yet ready to process those contents," she said. 

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