Photo by DZUP

[Philippines] Fact-checking initiative launched ahead of May mid-term elections

Eleven Philippine news organizations and three universities launched Monday, 11 February 2019, a pioneering fact-checking initiative targeted to prevent a repeat of the use of disinformation in the elections.

The project, called Tsek.ph, aims to verify “platforms and campaign promises of candidates; statements and remarks made by candidates, personalities, government agencies, and other entities; and election-related posts on social media, blogs and other platforms,” said the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication (UP CMC), one of the participating universities.

“The verified claims will be then given ratings in relation to the degree of their veracity, falsity and completeness (Accurate, False, Misleading, No Basis and Needs Context).”

“Tsek” is a creative play on the word “check”.

The Philippines is set to hold its next mid-term elections on 13 May 2019. The 2016 vote that catapulted President Rodrigo Duterte into office was marked by widespread disinformation, including the use of online trolls that were deployed to attack those opposed to his candidacy.

2017 study by Oxford University showed that Duterte’s camp spent $200,000 for cyber warriors to spread disinformation and push his messages on social media.

Among the news organizations involved in the initiative are Rappler and broadcasting giant ABS‐CBN. The initial academic partners, aside from UP, are Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.

The partners believe that “voters need accurate information on which to base their decisions, weigh the merits of each candidate and have reliable media platforms where issues can be explored and discussed freely to sustain democracy,” said UP CMC.

Tsek.ph is guided by the Code of Principles of the International Fact‐checking Network, and is supported by the Facebook Journalism.

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