How social media benefits candidates and leaves voters vulnerable to misinformation

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2022 11:08 AM | Updated as of Jan 29 2022 11:29 AM

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MANILA—Information on social media may be too curated for the voting public and should not solely be the basis for choosing a candidate in this year's elections, analysts said Saturday, as political campaigns shift online. 

Dennis Coronacion, who teaches political science at University of Santo Tomas, said political bets may veer away from traditional media and move some of their strategies on social media this year, where information is hard to vet and unregulated. 

"Ito pong mga kandidato, ang mga impormasyon na binibigay nila patungkol sa kanilang mga sarili ay magagandang impormasyon, putting their best foot forward," Coronacion explained. 

"Ito po ay curated, ’yung mga information na ’yan and nae-enhance ang kanilang public image."

This is where the "problem" comes in, according to Coronacion, because those people who get their information on social media are prone to misinformation. 

"Unlike sa traditional media na may magsasala ng impormasyon, ang social media walang ganu’n. Prone sa pagtanggap ng maling impormasyon ang mga taong nagre-rely masyado sa social media," he said. 

Communication strategist and former journalist Ricky Carandang, meanwhile, said the pandemic has "accelerated" the trends online, which trumped the most important aspect for a politician — being seen face-to-face during campaigns. 

"Mas lalo na lumakas ngayon ’yung trends na pinapanood mo ’yung kandidato sa social media. Mas humalaga lang ’yung role ng social media," Carandang explained. 

" ’Yung panahon noon na pinakamahalaga ’yung nakikita ka face to face . . . Ngayon talaga ’yung nakikita nila ng social media, ’yung nakukuwento sa kanila ng kaibigan at kapamilya nila, ’yun ang pinakamalaking impluwensya sa isang botante ngayon."

A disinformation researcher said parodies and memes were being used on social media against political candidates as a strategic way to campaign for the upcoming 2022 polls. 

Meme wars supposedly look more organic and are hard to regulate, which is why this is being strategized by other political bets. 

Social media has become one of the major battlegrounds during the election season in the Philippines, with many citing the campaign strategy of President Rodrigo Duterte as a success story. However, it has also turned into a hotbed of disinformation.

The campaign period starts on February 8 for national aspirants and on March 25 for local contenders.