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It's a Prank, Barbie and Jak: Parody News Accounts, Explained

Yes, think before you click.
by Erwin Colcol
Aug 4, 2021

Kapuso actress Barbie Forteza became the talk of the town last week after a Facebook post --- written in breaking news fashion --- claimed that she had broken up with long-time boyfriend Jak Roberto as he supposedly forgot that it was their monthsary.

It's the kind of celebrity story that racks up hits, especially since the couple's social media feeds are full of happy snapshots of their relationship. However, Forteza and Roberto have not broken up.

The post, now with over 111,000 reactions and 35,000 shares, was published on the Facebook account of, which brands itself as a parody of news website

Continue reading below ↓ and Forteza didn't find the post funny. The actress asked her fans to report the page, while the news website sought legal action on the account. Netizens were concerned that some people would take the post as real news.

Parody accounts like, although created for entertainment purposes, become dangerous “if there is no proper disclosure of the nature of the parody,” University of the Philippines journalism professor Danilo Arao told reportr.

“You have to be very, very careful if you want to engage in parody because there are a lot of risks that you can face. Ang mas matindi na risk talaga dito ay yung misinformation na pwedeng mangyari,” he said.


Filipinos love humor, more so during lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on Filipinos, and many turn to humor to help them deal with lockdown stress. This is one reason why parody accounts have become popular on social media, according to sociologist Ash Presto.

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Filipinos like to joke around especially during times of crisis, times of lockdown, wala tayong magawa. Humor is also a response mechanism to the crisis that we are facing,” she told reportr.

Creating parody accounts has been normalized in Filipino culture, Presto said. Even before made waves on social media, other accounts posting satirical content have tickled the internet over the years, including the likes of hampaslupa queen Senyora Santibañez.

But certain literary devices must be used in parody so that people can distinguish it from real news, Arao said. These include changing the spelling of the names of the people involved, and exaggerating scenarios to make it too good to be true.

Halimbawa sa halip na Barbie Forteza, sasabihin mong Darbie Fortaleza or something. Yung gagawa ka ng ganung approach para alam ng mga tao na parody ito. Kumbaga madaling nade-determine yung nature ng parody,” he said.

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In the case of, Arao said the nature of the parody was not properly disclosed. People also fell for it because the contents on the account looked professionally made and that it employed the design elements of --- a trusted news brand.

“It's a reflection of the general trust or sometimes distrust in news media organizations. On one hand, you can say that they trust the brand so much that people fell for it and that they were gullible,” he said.

For fellow UP journalism professor Rachel Khan, the motivations of for coming out with parody content leaves people in doubt: "Is it poking fun at the news item or the news site? Is it hoping to deceive an unsuspecting public?"

How the subjects react to the parody matters

While parody accounts are created mainly for entertainment, their impact on the people who have been negatively portrayed in their content should not be cast aside, according to Presto, the sociologist.

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Forteza, for example, must have been severely affected by the reactions and comments on the posts about her that she had to tell the administrators of the account “you’re welcome” before asking her fans to report it.

Whether or not these news articles are true does not diminish the fact that it has huge effect on people who are targets. Valid yung effect sayo, so valid yung tarnish doon sa image ni Barbie Forteza, valid yung trauma na nabigay sa kanya nung news at yung comment ng ibang tao,” Presto said.

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Doon tayo nagkaka-problema ngayon kasi irrevocable yung damage. We can also say that the news is even more damaging kasi nagkaroon ng issue, wala ka namang ginagawang masama sa ibang tao, napili ka lang,” she added.

Choosing Forteza as the subject of the parody content in this case is no accident as well, Presto said, as its creators had to pick someone who is always viral in order for their posts to gain traction.

“These pages exist to 'provide entertainment' but also to get engagements and likes for whatever purpose, maybe for profitable purpose in the future,” she said.

“So in effect, they have to target people who are distinguishable. They have to target people who they would know would bring them the clout and engagements that they like,” she added.

That's why you should think before you click

In this age where disinformation and fake news are everywhere, media literacy is essential than ever, Arao and Presto said. Distinguishing between parody and actual news entails taking closer look, or even a second look, at the online content before engaging with them.

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Media literacy involves multiple sourcing, Arao said. “Kapag may nakita kang content na nag-appear sa isang site, tignan mo if the same content appears in the other site. Kasi kung importanteng balita siya, imposible na hindi siya lalabas sa ibang news media organization.”

Consider also if a post is too good to be true. Sometimes, when content seems outrageous, it may be false as it could be only pandering to people’s emotions in order to get engagement, Presto said.

The public can also help legitimate media organizations in weeding out disinformation by being critical readers and calling their attention over fake news, Arao said.

“You also have to give out by sharing only credible information on one hand, and making constructive criticisms to the media if you deem it necessary,” he said.

Kasi lahat naman tayo nasa posisyon to engage the media kasi it's our right as a public to get the media that we deserve."

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