Vice President Leni Robredo is the "biggest victim of disinformation" on social media so far in 2022, as her top opponent, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. stands to benefit the most, an independent fact-checking initiative said Wednesday.
Based on over 200 erroneous claims curated for the month of January, the vice president emerged as the favorite target of erroneous claims containing negative messaging, said Tsek.ph, a collaboration of over 30 academic and media organizations.
The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s son on the other hand is also favorite subject of false claims, though his are "largely positive or in his favor seeking to promote him", said TsekPH head Yvonne Chua, who teaches journalism at the University of the Philippines.
“Marami po talaga, every week, she is the biggest victim of disinformation or negative messaging, whether it’s about the typhoon, COVID-19 response and all sorts,” Chua told told senators in a hearing that sought to revisit the country's criminal laws to accomodate social media disinformation.
“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,” Chua said, citing fabricated posts containing "endorsements" such as the one involving New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Chua’s team also noted a trend that seeks to mislead the public about the leadership of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
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According to Chua, what's happening to Robredo seems to be a repeat of the 2019 elections, wherein opposition figures were also the prime targets of disinformation that were mostly on Facebook.
She said such claims had hurt the candidacy of Otso Diretso candidates like Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas, who initially where survey frontrunners. Candidates from the Makabayan bloc of progressive groups also received the same attacks, she said.
“Unfortunately, the trend persists despite the efforts to curb disinformation. A lot has come out ahead of May elections,” Chua said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, who is running for the vice presidency in tandem with Robredo, said these findings call for a need to revisit the country's criminal laws to include penalizing of "widespread disinformation and misinformation happening in our digital space".
“Ang dali lang naman mag-post nang mag-post ng kung anu-ano sa social media, whether it is true or not. Ngunit kailangang mayroong accountability dahil kung wala, people will think na okay lang ang magkalat ng mga walang basehang claims. That’s what we want to address as soon as possible,” Pangilinan said.